Civilizing the West
The Galts and the Development of Western Canada
Publication Data: University of Alberta Press, 1982, ISBN
0-88864-071-4, hardcover; 1986 ISBN 0-88864-111-7, paper.
Dustjacket description: Alexander Tilloch Galt and his son,
Elliott Torrance Galt, were two central Canadian entrepreneurs who
tirelessly promoted the resources of Western Canada. During the
latter half of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth
centuries, they worked zealously to bring the symbols of civilization
to the undeveloped prairies.
Because immigrants and businesses preferred to settle in the United
States, the Galts battled British and eastern Canadian reluctance
to invest in the Western Canadian frontier. The competing American
railways and coal industry, the unstable international financial
market, and prejudice against the seemingly arid and cold southern
Canadian plains also hampered their efforts. Nevertheless, the
Galts maintained their family's optimistic self-confidence,
stubborn perseverance, and astute business acumen. In a brief span
of twenty-five years, the two bustling promoters introduced
steamboats, railways, coal-mines, irrigation, and agricultural
settlement to the Northwest. Aided by generous government
subsidies, Alexander and Elliott Galt transformed the prairies more
than centuries of winds, fires, and rains.
As a corollary to the story of the Galts, Dr. den Otter traces the
birth and growth of the southern Alberta town of Lethbridge,
showing how civilization came and the problems that came with it.
The study concludes with a comprehensive look at the 1906 coal
workers' strike as one product of the civilizing process.
Using primary sources hitherto unpublished, the author brings to
light new material of interest to historians of business, labour,
mining, railways, irrigation, and the early development of the
West. Appendices, tables, maps, and photographs further document
the fascinating period of Civilizing the West.