To encourage settlement in the west the Dominion
Government offered a free homestead of 160 acres for a $10 registration
fee. In order to receive the patent for the land the settler had
to be a male 21 years of age or a woman who was the sole support
of her family. Before being granted a patent the applicant had
to be a British subject or a naturalized British subject, had to
reside on the homestead for a period of time, usually six months
of the year for three years, make improvements to the land by cultivating
at least 30 acres of land, and erect a house worth at least $300.
A homestead file may consist of the following documents:
Application for entry: which shows name and signature of the
applicant, place of birth and the nationality of the applicant,
place of residence and the date of entry. Later applications listed
the ages of family members. Applications for entry were not retained
in every file.
Sworn statement in support of application for patent: this was
signed by the homesteader providing proof that he had met the requirement
of the Dominion Lands Act. The information provided includes the
name, age and citizenship status of the homesteader, length of
residence on the land and the number of family members residing
with him, cultivation done on the land, stock held and the value
of the applicants dwelling, buildings and other improvements. If
the homesteader had been naturalized, the date of naturalization
is usually written on the sworn statement. On the reverse side
of the document are the sworn statements of two witnesses verifying
the information provided by the homesteader.
Notification of patent: this is a notification from the Lands
Branch to the homesteader that a patent was issued in his name
and that he was eligible to apply for a certificate of title at
the Land Registration district office. The date that the patent
was issued and the postal address of the homesteader are given
on this document.
Other documents that are sometimes in
the files are declarations of abandonment, notification of cancellation
of entry, inspectors’ reports,
statutory declarations of the homesteader’s progress, copies
of wills and naturalization certificates and correspondence regarding
a variety of subjects, particularly seed grain liens or interpretation
of homestead law.
Please note that often there are several references
to the same individual in the index. This is a result of cancelled entries,
entries on a pre-emption, purchased homestead, transfer of purchase of scrip, etc.
It is therefore necessary to examine the actual file in order to determine the type of grant.