Canada, here I come.
No bending the knee to some high and mighty landowner, like Dad. No working someone else’s farmland, like Dad. Nope, I’m going to have my own farm.
To do that, I’m leaving not-so-merry old England. Leaving my friends, too, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
I don’t quite believe the picture the agent painted of Canadian farms. I’ve worked with Dad long enough to know farming is hard work. You don’t just throw the seed in the ground and watch it harvest itself.
Tomorrow, I leave on Mr. Cunard’s Ultonia. My farm awaits.
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Caleb Higham, my maternal grandfather, emigrated to Canada in April, 1913, in search of his own farm. He did not want to be a tenant farmer like his father, and he knew that owning a farm in England was impossible.
Caleb landed in Montreal, bound for Regina, Saskatchewan. The Ultonia’s passenger manifest indicates he emigrated under the “British Bonus Allowed” program of the Canadian government. This program paid a bonus both to the agents who recruited farmers and to steamship agents. It also paid the immigrant farmer $10.00 if the immigrant purchased his farm land within six months of arriving in Canada.
Getting his farm wasn’t as easy as Caleb had imagined. By 1913, all the homestead land in southern Saskatchewan was taken up, and buying an existing farm was out of the question for someone who had arrived in Canada with only $25.00 in his pocket. He worked as a brakeman for the Canadian Pacific Railway for a time, then began work as a farm labourer for Will Grigg just north of Moose Jaw. There, he met Mary Appleton and, in 1915, they married .
He had to wait another nine years before buying his farm. First, he delivered milk for a Moose Jaw Dairy, then he rented a series of farms. In 1924, Caleb finally achieved his dream – he purchased a half-section (320 acres) of land north of the town of Assiniboia in southwestern Saskatchewan.
Caleb never did collect his $10.00.