A Study of Jewish Philanthropic Company Colonization in Canada`s Northwest Territories During the Late Nineteenth Century
Neufeld, Timothy R
Since the author of this study is of Mennonite ethnic origin it is perhaps in order to explain how he came to write this study of an aspect of Jewish History. As an undergraduate his interests lay in modern European History and Russian Intellectual History during the late nineteenth century. In 1975, however, his attention was drawn to a national essay competition sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada in honour of the Bronfman Family. The author was able to complete a paper, 'Jewish Agricultural Settlement in Western Canada, 1870-1930' while doing contract research related to the development of a travelling display for the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon during the summer of 1976. Dr. T.D. Regehr, who supervised the research permitted the paper to be submitted to the contest and it was awarded second prize of $200. Al though the paper was based on available secondary sources only, the author had been able to ascertain that there were primary sources available for more detailed study of aspects of Jewish Agricultural Settlement in the West. The author's attention was drawn to Hirsch Colony in particular because of the sharply divergent portrayals of its history and role in the development of Jewish agriculture in Western Canada. Jewish literature suggested that it was at least a moderate success and that it contributed significantly to the later improvement of Jewish agriculture's progress in the West. Government sources often quoted in the secondary sources, however, were generally very negative about Jewish agriculture in general and about Hirsch Colony in particular. This intrigued the author and resulted in this study of the Colony's role in determining the direction taken by Jewish Agricultural Colonization in Western Canada and its influence on Dominion Lands Policy regarding assisted settlement in general and Jewish agriculture in particular. This study grew out of the natural curiosity sparked by the essay contest, the contract research, and the author's own interest in the ethnic variety and agricultural foundations of Western Canada.