Although farmers made up the largest group of people living in the Prairies, not everyone was a farmer. There were also a good number of livestock growers and unskilled workers.

Livestock growers

Ranch owners were generally businessmen who had come from the eastern provinces, like Ontario, or Great Britain. Sometimes they owned the land, but more often than not they rented it. The living conditions of livestock growers were generally better than those of farmers. They often settled near a river, with trees nearby. This allowed them to build wood homes. With their herds, they could have meat with every meal. Like famers, they started forming associations, such as the Live Stock Growers’ Association in 1895.

Unskilled workers

In 1905, the Prairies were less urbanized and industrialized than Québec, but there were still many plants and factories. Unskilled workers were therefore a large group in Prairie towns, particularly in Winnipeg. Railway companies were among the biggest employers, but there were also men and women working in the garment industry, in the construction trades and in the metallurgical industry, for example. Their situation was similar to that of unskilled workers in the towns of Québec.

Did you know?

The largest general strike in Canada in the early 20th century took place in Winnipeg. For six weeks in 1919, more than 30,000 workers went on strike, paralyzing the entire city. The city’s employers refused to negotiate with the unions. It took strong intervention by the army to put an end to the conflict.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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