Date of Issue
August 27, 1980
Perforation or Dimension
Designed by Chris Yaneff Limited Based on a photograph by George Hunter
Seventy-five years ago the federal government divided the Northwest Territories and created Saskatchewan and Alberta. Ten years earlier many had regarded the Northwest as a disappointment. True, the railway had made it easily accessible and the Northwest Mounted Police had paved the way for peaceful development. Yet the region had-not lured the settlers who would justify the costs of the railway and provide a market for eastern industries. This gloomy outlook soon changed. Food prices rose, but ocean freight rates declined and interest rates remained low. Agricultural technology rapidly adapted itself to the northern plains. The United States could no longer offer much good inexpensive land to homesteaders. Clifford Sifton, Canada's vigorous new Minister of the Interior, took advantage of these circumstances. He despatched agents to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe to search for, in the words of his deputy minister, "a settler... possessed of his full faculties, steady, honest, sober, and willing to work whether he be rich or poor, Galician, Austrian, Russian, Swede Belgian or French..." The resultant explosive population increase put tremendous pressure on the territorial government for schools, local public works, and other services. The territorial government was in no position to provide them. As a ward of the federal government, it couldn't borrow money, couldn't extract revenue from federally controlled public lands, couldn't tax the Canadian Pacific Railway, and couldn't charter other badly needed railways. Furthermore, the territorial government depended for most of its revenue on a federal grant that until 1904 remained inadequate. Under the leadership of "Premier" F. W. G. Haultain, the territorial government in 1900 requested provincial status so that necessary local services could be effectively provided. Prime Minister Laurier delayed granting provincial status until 1905. He then decided to create two small provinces instead of one large one. He argued that the area was too large for one province to govern effectively, although Haultain disagreed, stating that the territorial government had done so and that a single province could too. Laurier also decided that in return for a cash grant to Saskatchewan and Alberta, the federal government would retain control of their public lands. He believed that provincial control might disrupt federal immigration policies. His critics pointed out that all other provinces except Manitoba controlled their own public lands and that Saskatchewan and Alberta would hardly do anything to hinder their own development. Nevertheless, there was joy rather than discontent among most of the citizens of the new provinces and a feeling that the future looked bright. The dynamic growth and solid prosperity of Saskatchewan and Alberta springs from the land. The design of this stamp is therefore based on the sweep of the great plains, which stretch across the boundaries of both provinces to the barrier of the Rocky Mountains in the west. The aerial photography is by George Hunter and the typographic design, by Chris Yaneff Limited of Toronto.
Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1980.
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