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Canadian Pacific Railway Company's irrigation system in Alberta Canadian Pacific Railway Company Oct 31, 1914

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Canadian Pacific Railway
Irrigation Systems in Alberta
of  the
jQcXaa^a& ■,   C &u& t^-r
"T" RRIGATION is at once the most youthful and the
oldest method of agriculture in the world. Buried
in the waste and sands of centuries have been found
irrigation dams, conduits and canals that outclass
many of the latest and greatest feats of engineering
skill and inspire the deepest admiration and respect
for the unknown engineers of antiquity. Sir William Wilcocks, one of the most distinguished living
irrigation engineers, a student of irrigation systems
in all parts of the world, and the designer of the
most notable irrigation structure of modern times,
the Assuan Dam, has made the statement that the
application of water by artificial means to benefit
agricultural operations can be traced as far back as
the Garden of Eden. It is at any rate certain that
where—according to some historians—civilization
first arose, in the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Asia Minor,
was once a densely populated region in a state of very high cultivation;
and where and when Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image were
fertile plains traversed in every direction by a network of canals and
ditches. Chaldea's rich irrigated lands were indeed the secret of her
wealth, and the reason why she was so often the prey of envious neighboring nations.
It was irrigation, say some archeologists, that made the Land of
Goshen such a fruitful land in Joseph's time, so that when there was.
drought and famine elsewhere all peoples came to Egypt to buy corn..
More than forty centuries ago, an Egyptian king, Amenemhat III,.
built the most famous reservoir of either ancient or modern times, Lake-
Moeris,  constructed for the purpose of receiving and distributing the.-
waters of the Nile. This reservoir was nearly 2,500 acres in extent.
One of the largest irrigation dams of any time was that built in the home
of the ancient Sabaeans, about 1,760 B.C., its length being 10,560
feet, its height 1 20 feet and its thickness 500 feet.
Great irrigationists were the Romans. No other structures in the
Eternal City matched, as regards either magnitude or value, the wonderful aqueducts and conduits that, carrying water for distances varying
from fifty to two hundred miles, provided Rome with a domestic supply
that has been estimated at over three hundred millions gallons daily.
Irrigation farming was understood and practised by the Latin farmer.
The poet Virgil describes, in one of his poems, the Roman husbandman
as decoying the torrent when the fields were scorched with raging heat,
and allaying the thirsty lands with gurgling streams. When the
Romans conquered the greater part of then known Europe, colonizing
and civilizing barbaric countries, they constructed irrigation works as well
as roads, taking artificers and engineers from the famous systems in North
Africa to establish in Italy, Gaul and even in the Isles of Britain works
of a similar kind. In Southern France, Julius Caesar built aqueducts
rivalling those of ancient Carthage, and he built so well that some of
them are still in use to-day, more than two thousand years old. In
•mediaeval times the conquering Saracens of Asia Minor and North
Africa, and the Moors of Southern Spain, extended and improved
•existing irrigation practices, and became the most successful irrigators
of the world. Living in an age of strife and struggle, they redeemed
dreary wastes and converted them into fertile, fruitful fields.
Literature, it has been said, has always flourished most in periods
of commercial expansion. Equally, the study of these early system.;
of irrigation demonstrates that the engineering works of greatest magnitude were built during the periods of the greatest progress in literaturs
and the industrial arts. Civilization, with all the culture that it implies, and irrigation went hand in hand; only during the Dark Ages
did both art and irrigation languish.
The history of irrigation on the American continent dates back to
prehistoric times. The Pueblo builders of the south-west United
States have left evidences, in New Mexico, Arizona and south-western
Colorado, of extensive systems with, sometimes, individual canals
twenty miles or more in length—canals so well constructed that their
beds have been utilized by modern ditch builders. When the Spanish
Conqueror Cortez came to Mexico, he found there a well-governed and
exceedingly productive empire. Probably nowhere in the sixteenth
century could have been found a better system of irrigation than that
inaugurated by the Montezumas; the greatest cities of Central America,
the ruins of which, centuries old, excite wonder and admiration for the
architectural skill of the builders, suggest that there must have been a
highly developed system of farming under irrigation to sustain the population of these cities and give stability and support to their pastoral race.
"Nothing of modern day methods," says Professor W. H. Olin,
"seems to compare with the agriculture these Aztec people are believed
to have practised centuries ago, from south-west Colorado on the north,
through Old Mexico as we know it to-day, down to the narrow Isthmus
of Panama on the south."
The records of this strange, yet undoubtedly progressive people,
were, alas, blotted out by the vindictive invaders; equally unfortunate
was the loss of those of the Incas, the conquest of whom by Pizarro
has been characterized as the most ruthless, cruel and inexcusable of
either ancient or modern times. They, too, had carefully worked out
and well distributed irrigation systems. The canals, the subterraneous
aqueducts which converted the rarely-watered though rich soil into a
rich and variegated carpet of verdure, the terraces raised up the steep
sides of the Cordillera and exhibiting in regular gradation every variety
of vegetable form, are to be found described in the vivid pages of the
historian Prescott.
It is almost a task of supererogation to discuss the development of
irrigation in the United States, because it has taken place so recently
that it is within the lifetime of men not yet arrived at middle age.
Twenty years ago the cost of the then existing irrigation enterprises in
the United States was less than thirty million dollars, an insignificant
sum when compared with the magnitude of the results achieved—today, the cost of existing systems lies between four and five hundred
million. In the last census year (1910), there were in the so-called
"arid region" of the United States—the tier of states formed by the
Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and all of the states
lying between these and the Pacific Coast—no less than 54,700 irrigation enterprises of all kinds, including those established under the various
laws, co-operative enterprises and commercial enterprises.
Concrete   Drop,   Secondary
Canal   "C,"   Western
§r The  Farmer's Wife
Finds   Pin-money.
These enterprises, by means of 81,837 main and lateral canals,
with a total mileage of 125,591 miles, and 6,812 reservoirs with a
capacity of 12,581,129 acre feet, were on July 1st, 1910, capable of
irrigating 19,334,697 acres and actually irrigated 13,738,485 acres
—the latter being 1.2% of the total land area of the states in question,
3.5% of the total area of the farms in those states, and 7.9% of the
area of improved lands in farms. The total acreage of all projects,
whether completed when the census was taken or in process of development, was 31,1 1 1,142 acres, and the number of farms irrigated was
158,713—11% of the total number in the states included. It is
notable that while the total number of farms in the region had increased 31.5% in the ten years since the previous census, the number
of irrigated farms had increased 47.7%. The cost of the construction of these enterprises, on July 1st, totalled $307,866,369—the
total cost to the end of 1910 was estimated at $424,281,186, representing an expenditure during the decennial period of over $350,000,-
000, and the average cost per acre, based on the latter estimate, and on
the acreage included in the projects, was $1 3.64, ranging actually from
an average of $5.53 per acre in Oklahoma to an average of $27.32
in Washington.
Finally we come to the development of irrigation in Canada—
one of the newest, though not actually the latest, nations to take up the
problem. By "Canada" is especially meant Western Canada, because
the study and application of irrigation has been confined almost entirely
to the West. The two prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta,
and the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia, have been the
centres of development. In the prairie provinces irrigation has been
considered from the standpoint of the grain-and-stock farmer—in
British Columbia, more particularly from that of the fruit-grower.
In introducing to the reader's consideration the irrigation system
now being developed by the Canadian Pacific Company in Alberta—
the largest individual irrigation project on the American continent,
with an area larger than the total irrigated area in either Colorado or
California, nearly double that of Montana, nearly treble that of Wyoming, and greater than one-fifth the total irrigated areas of the United
States—it should be emphasized, at the outset, that this undertaking,
involving as it does an extremely heavy capital expenditure,  has not
Page Seven r
been necessitated by the same adverse climatic or soil conditions that
have caused the creation of irrigated tracts elsewhere. Southern
Alberta is neither arid nor desert.
The creation of the "Irrigation Block" is an essential part in the
progressive colonization programme carried on by the railway company,
in the expectation that the block would contribute a heavy traffic to the
freight interest. The basic function of a railroad is, of course, the
conveyance of passengers and freight; but conditions on this continent,
especially in the West, are such that railway enterprise has not been
able to confine itself to this one activity. Both in Canada and the
United States, many of the railway companies have had to create the
traffic they desired to carry. Broadly speaking, intensive methods of
agriculture have not been practised. To promote them will be one of
the missions of irrigation.
The presence of an irrigation project is accounted for by a desire
on the part of the railway company to see the Irrigation Block the
home of the most closely settled and prosperous mixed farming, stock
raising and dairying community in Western Canada, and unless this
result is actually achieved its aim will not have been fulfilled. Its aim
never was to make any immediate profit out of the sale of irrigable
lands or of the business of selling water; and, as a matter of fact, the
annual rental for water does not cover the operation and maintenance
Irrigation in Southern Alberta may be said to date from 1892,
when a series of dry years turned the attention of the settlers to the
possibilities of aiding the growth of their crops by the artificial application of water. The question subsequently assumed such importance as
to warrant its being taken up by the Government, with the
result that well-considered and comprehensive laws relating to the use
of water for irrigation were passed; a system of general surveys undertaken to determine the source and value of available supplies, and the
location of the areas where such water could be used to the best advantage.
These surveys showed that three extensive areas offered special
advantages for irrigation—one containing some 150,000 acres, situated
in the Lethbridge district, which could be supplied from the St. Mary
river; a second containing about 350,000 acres, lying near the junction
of the Bow and Belly rivers, in townships 1 1 to 1 4 inclusive, ranges 1 1
to 16 inclusive; and a third, a much larger one, situated along the
main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway and extending about 1 50
miles east of the City of Calgary. It is notable that the works to serve
all of these tracts have either been built, or are now under construction.
An   irrigated   farm  in  Alberta.
The third-mentioned project eventually passed into the hands of
the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and is now known as the
Bow Valley Irrigation Block. It was conceded that its development
and colonization along proper lines would add materially to the selling
prices of the land, would do away with the uncertainty of getting sufficient moisture for certain crops in certain years, would admit of intensive farming on smaller areas, and would result in settlers being attract-
ed in greater numbers than could otherwise be expected; all of which
are the basis of the revenue-producing value of any agricultural country
as far as traffic receipts are concerned.
The Bow River heads in the Bow Lakes on the eastern slope of
the Rocky Mountains; and with its tributaries has a drainage area of
about 3,800 square miles at Calgary, and about 5,100 square miles
at Bassano. It generally reaches its highest stages between June 15th
and August 1 5 th of each year, and its lowest stages during January
and February. Its maximum flood discharge at Calgary has probably
been close to 100,000 second feet, although the hydrographic records
for both extreme high and low water are rather meagre.
The Block is an open prairie plateau with a general elevation of
about 3,500 feet above sea level at its westerly limits, sloping gradually until a general elevation of about 2,300 is reached at its easterly
boundary. Its topography is rolling, particularly in the western sections, whereas large areas of almost level plains are found at its easterly
limits. The soil is good, consisting of a heavy black loam and clay
subsoil in the westerly portions, and a lighter sandy loam of great depth
overlying clay and hard pan in its easterly limits.
It is bounded on the west by the Fifth Meridian, on the south by
the Bow River, on the east by the line between ranges 1 0 and 1 1, west
of the Fourth Meridian, and on the north by the Red Deer River and
the north boundary of township 28. Its length east and west is about
1 40 miles, and it has an average width north and south of about 40
miles. It is intersected by the main line of the railway, and numerous
other railway facilities have been or will be provided in various directions.     It contains an area of 4,840 square miles, or 3,097,580 acres.
The precipitation varies considerably from year to year, and decreases easterly as the altitude becomes lower. The average annual
rainfall at Calgary between 1886 (since when meteorological records
exist) and 1913 was 15.58 inches. The average for the irrigation
period of five months, from May 1 st to October 1 st, covering the same
years', was about 1 1   inches.
Surveys in connection with the project were commenced by the
railway company in 1903, and have gradually extended in detail since
that date. This represented a vast amount of work, as an irrigation
project demands surveys and examinations far more complete than those
for a railway line. On the completion of the preliminary surveys it
became evident that the Block naturally divided itself into three sections, which were designated as the Western, Eastern and Central, of
about one million acres each; and the work has been carried on along
the lines of development in the order stated. The Western and Eastern sections are complete units in themselves, whereas the Central Section, owing to its general elevation, could only be served by an enlargement of a portion of the trunk lines in the Western Section.
The Western Section is composed of 1,039,620 acres, of which
about 370,000 acres have been brought under irrigation. The water
for this section is diverted from the Bow River at a point just inside the
easterly limits of the City of Calgary. From there, it is carried south
and east through a main canal, 1 7 miles in length, which in part is 60
feet wide on the bottom, 1 20 feet wide at the water line, and designed
lo carry water to a depth of ten feet. The larger portion of this canal,-
however, is 44 feet bed width and 84 feet on the water line.
This main canal delivers water to a reservoir, for which a natural
depression has been utilized, and where by the erection of a large earth
dam a body of water three miles long, half a mile wide and 40 feet in
depth has been created. Just before reaching this reservoir the main
canal makes a vertical drop of 1 0 feet. From the reservoir, the water
is taken out in three secondary canals, "A," "B" and "C," and carried to the different districts to be irrigated. These secondary canals
have a combined length of about 250 miles, and. are the following
sizes at their westerly ends:—
Secondary Canal  "A,"   18  feet bed width,  carrying 8  feet of
Secondary Canal  "B,"  28  feet bed width,  carrying 6  feet of
Secondary Canal  "C,"  40  feet bed width,  carrying 6  feet of
Drop,  Secondary  Canal   "C,"  Western  Section
From these secondary canals, the water is again taken out and
distributed in each irrigation district through a comprehensive system of
distributing ditches, which bring the water to each parcel of land irrigated. In the Western Section, the following mileage of waterways
has been constructed:—
Main Canal      17 miles
Secondary Canals 254 miles
Distributing Ditches 1329 miles
1600 miles
In addition to the above, there are several hundred miles of small
ditches constructed by the farmers to distribute the water over their
farms. The structures, consisting of headgates, spillways, drops, flumes,
bridges, weirs, etc., are numbered in thousands, and in their construction
ten million feet B.M. of timber and ten thousand cubic yards of reinforced concrete were used. In completing the canal system, ten million cubic yards of material were excavated. Of its total area, both
irrigable and non-irrigable, less than five per cent remains unsold.
The Eastern Section is composed of 1,156,224 acres, of which
approximately 440,000 are to be rendered irrigable. Most of this
land is of a gently rolling character, and susceptible of good drainage.
This system will be entirely independent of the other sections, having
an independent intake, located about three miles south-west of Bassano,
a town on the main line of the C.P.R., 83 miles east of Calgary.
The system takes advantage of a low pass through the rim of the
Bow Valley at the point referred to, known locally as Horseshoe
Bend, to take water from the river by an intake. For this purpose a
huge dam has been constructed, and recently completed. Its functions
were conceived as twofold; firstly, to raise the level of the water at th<;
intake, thereby enabling the system to command a much larger area
than it otherwise could do, and secondly, to reduce the quantity of
material that had to be removed from the main canal cut heading' from
the dam.
Just above the site of the dam, the Bow River made a long bend
in the shape of a horse-shoe. The banks on the outer side were high
and massive; but inside, the land, before its submersion, sloped gradually down until the banks on the inner side of the then existing channel
were scarcely any higher than the level of the stream. Merely to have
dammed the river would not have been sufficient, and would have resulted only in its diversion into a new channel, across the low-lying
tongue of land comprised within the horse-shoe. The whole of this
tongue had to be submerged and a great pool formed.
The dam, therefore, is a composite structure, consisting of a reinforced concrete spillway in the original river channel that continues in
a long, high earthen embankment across the foot of the horse-shoe
shaped tongue. The spillway is of the Ambursen type, and consists
of a heavy floor built upon the bed of the stream, with suitable cut-off
walls at its upstream and downstream edges; and upon this floor are
erected parallel buttresses of substantially triangular outline, with a
slope to the upstream edge of about 45 degrees. Upon brackets pr >-
jecting from the faces of the buttresses are cast concrete slabs to form
a deck, terminating at the top of the buttresses in a curved crest and
passing down over the downstream side in the form of an apron curved
to correspond as nearly as possible to the path of the over-fall flood
waters. The structure is 720 feet in length between abutments, with
a maximum height of 40 feet to the overflow crest, above which eleven
feet of water are retained by twenty-four sluice gates, operated by electricity. Rising from each alternate buttress and separating the gates
are piers carrying a road bridge.
The earthen embankment is some 7,000 feet in length, and extends from the south end of the spillway until it meets and merges with
the sloping ground running down to the river. At its highest point it is
350 feet in width at the base; and it contains about one million cubic
yards of earth. The spillway contains some 40,000 cubic yards ov
concrete and 2 J/2 million pounds of reinforcing steel. Construction
on both parts was begun in the summer of 1910.
At the north side of the spillway, and at right angles to and just
inside it, are located the headgates of the main canal by which the system is served. The elevation of the sills of these headgates is 35 feet
above the original low-water level of the Bow River, and above the
sills are the eleven feet of water retained by the gates of the spillway,
making a total height of 46 feet that the level of the water has been
raised. The headgates consist of five openings each of twenty feet,
with electrically operated sluice gates, and control a discharge into the
main canal of 3,800 cubic feet per second.
From the headgates, the main canal leads to a point about five
miles distant, where an earth dam 1,280 feet long and 35 feet high,
is built across the valley to form a tail pool from which the branch
canals are fed. There are two of these—the North Branch and the
East Branch. The North Branch is the smaller, and serves the country lying north and west of Mat-zi-win Creek, the valley just mentioned.
At the outset, this canal is about 30 feet bed width, carrying about
6J/2 feet of water. After crossing the railway line, it follows the west
flank of a deep valley known as the Crawling Valley to a point about
eight miles north of the intake, where it crosses the valley by a flume
1,390 feet in length, and then runs northerly. It has numerous branches, and becomes smaller as the distributaries are thrown off, finally
tailing off into the Red Deer River.
The East Branch, heading from the tail pool of the main canal,
has a size at the outlet of 70 feet bed width, carrying 9.3 feet of water.
Its general course is south-east, and it serves the balance of the country
not supplied by the North Branch. Near Lathom, the first branch
takes off, crossing the railway and watering a large area between the
two forks of the Mat-zi-win Creek. This branch is known as the
Spring Hill canal and is 35 feet bed width, carrying seven feet of
The East Branch continues south-easterly, reaching the height of
land at the head of Antelope Creek. At this point, it again forks, the
south-easterly branch being known as the Bow Slope Canal, which is
about 1 7 feet bed width, carrying 5 feet of water, and will serve ail
the land on the Bow River slope. At Cassils two smaller canals are
taken off, and just south of Brooks the East Branch discharges part jf
its water into Lake Newell reservoir, which is being formed in a depression in the Little Rolling Hills by the construction of a number of earth
dams, the largest of which will be about 2,000 feet long and 30 feet
in height. The storage capacity of this reservoir will be about 185,003
acre feet.     The balance of the water in the East Branch will go down
Page  Fifteen tu §-; h H, l-> I
■- .-i-*.-M4i.-:*.5>*lw*S«»<-'
Centre—General View of the Bassano Dam   (Easten
Bottom Right, Main Canal A, Western Section. i Section) ;   Top Left, Intake and Diversion Dam, Lethbridge Section;
The otherviews show structures and scenes  in  the  Irrigation  Block. CANADIAN     PACIFIC     RAILWAY     COMPANY'S
the east flank of the Rolling Hills on a high grade line in a canal known
as the Rolling Hills Canal, the size of which is about 20 feet bed width,
carrying 5 J/2 feet of water.
Alfalfa,   Oats  and   Garden  Truck
The outlet from the reservoir will be a canal about five miles in
length and about 40 feet bed width, carrying seven feet of water. At
its easterly end it will discharge into a large reinforced concrete flume,
about 1 0,000 feet in length, which will carry about 900 cubic feet of
water per second over a deep notch in the watershed and deliver it to
the Bantry Canal, which will serve north and south of the Bantry
Hills. The Bantry Canal, until it forks, is about 45 feet bed width,
carrying 7 J/2 feet of water. After it forks the east branch is about 20
feet bed width, carrying 5 J/2 feet of water.
The estimated mileage of canals and ditches to serve this portion
of the Block are:—
Main Canal         5 miles
Secondary Canal     475   miles
Distributing   Ditches    2,020 miles
2,500  miles
The earth which it has been necessary to remove in connection with
these ditches and canals will amount, when the section is completed, to
over twenty million cubic yards.
The Eastern Section has been designed with a view to the adoption
of rotation in supply, resulting in each individual water-user obtaining
a satisfactory head and a fair division of water, and the simplification
of operating problems. This is a matter which cannot be worked out
in detail until the lands are more closely settled, but the system is being
planned on the basis of giving parcels of between 80 and 1 60 acres
a supply of two second feet for a period of 96 hours, and parcels smaller than 80 feet a similar flow for 48 hours. A large portion of the
irrigable lands are now open for settlement, a start being made with
the location, in the early spring, of a score of families who came up
from Colorado and took up "ready made farms" north of Bassano.
The Central Section contains 901,740 acres, and it was at first
intended to irrigate about one quarter of this area. Up to date
construction of this portion of the system has been held in abeyance.
In the spring of 1912, the Canadian Pacific Railway acquired
the irrigation system referred to previously as the first of the three possible irrigable areas in Alberta (then owned by the Alberta Railway and
Irrigation Company), and is now administering it under the name of the
Lethbridge Section. This, the pioneer irrigation enterprise on a large scale
in Western Canada, was started in the year 1 898, and was constructed
at an expenditure of over one million dollars. The headgates and
diversion works are situated on the St. Mary River, near the north-east
corner of Township 1, Range 25, west of the Fourth Meridian, and
about 50 miles south-west of Lethbridge. The St. Mary River, like
the Bow River, is a mountain river fed by the melted snows and glaciers CANADIAN    PACIFIC     RAILWAY     COMPANY'S
of the Rockies, and does not depend upon natural precipitation for its
volume. The main canal of the system has now been enlarged to
carry 800 cubic feet of water per second, the mileage of canals and
ditches operated by the company being 230. The area under irrigation is 120,000 acres, and are mostly tributary to the railway lines
between Lethbridge and Magrath, and Lethbridge and Chin.
The successful outcome of any large irrigation project is only partially solved by good construction, and in some cases the administrative
heads of large schemes have failed to realize that the ultimate success
of such enterprises cannot be fully brought about without the farmers,
and that it is the labors of the latter which determine the real value of
such properties. With this realization, the sale of the lands in this
Block warranted the establishment of a large organization which has
extended over all important points in Canada, the United States, Great
Britain and parts of Continental Europe.
The history of irrigation enterprises in the United States has
demonstrated that the basis of irrigation is not so much the production
of either fruits, cereals, garden truck or other expensive crops as th-;
feeding and finishing of live-stock and the development of dairying in
its various branches. That animal husbandry vastly overshadows any
other line of agricultural endeavor on the irrigated farm was so apparent that the Canadian Pacific Railway has from the first focussed its
attention on its progress. The raising of fodder crops is therefore of
paramount importance; and, it may be said at once, in few cases can
it be carried on so successfully as in Southern Alberta.
Alfalfa has long since passed the experimental stage in the province of Alberta, and has proved one of the surest and most profitable
crops. Alfalfa, says George L. Clothier, late of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is one of nature's choicest gifts to man, the preserver and conserver of the homestead. "Alfalfa makes the hen
cackle and the turkeys gobble.    It induces the pigs to squeal and grunt
with satisfaction. It causes the contented cow to give pails full of
creamy milk, and the steer to bawl for the feed rack. It softens the
disposition of the colt, and hardens his bones and muscles. It fat
tens lambs as no other feed, and promotes a wool clip that is as a veritable golden fleece. It compels skim milk calves to make gains of two
pounds a day. It helps the farmer to produce pork at a cent and a half
a pound and beef at two cents."
Encouragement for the live-stock industry is found in the large
and constantly expanding market for all kinds of food products, consequent upon the great increase in population during the past decade
through immigration—a market that as regards prices is stable and
satisfactory. The fact that so large a proportion of the food products
consumed in Western Canada were until recently imported afforded a
very cogent reason why an attempt should be made to supply the demand by home production; and now that, according to indications,
the tide seems turning is a matter for some congratulation.
Timothy is another fodder crop that is profitable under irrigation.
All varieties of roots and vegetables usually grown in a temperate
climate can be raised, and there is just as large a demand, and for the
same reason, for all kinds of garden produce. Small fruits of the berry
types can be grown very successfully. The raising of sugar beets
is another department from which great activity may be expected.
The irrigation of grain crops is to be considered as a method of
insurance. While it has already been pointed out that irrigation is not
necessitated in southern Alberta by the same rigorous conditions that
have rendered imperative the creation of irrigated tracts elsewhere, that
statement must be qualified by the admission that there are occasional
seasons in which the district receives a rainfall insufficient in its total'
volume, or so irregular in its distribution as to preclude the possibility
of first-class crops. Such a year has been the present one, which has
forcibly demonstrated the value of this aspect of irrigation. At all
times, too, irrigation increases the yields from the land.     Experiments CANADIAN    PACIFIC    RAILWAY    COMPANY'S
conducted at the Dominion Government Experimental Farm at Lethbridge have shown that the six-year average of Marquis wheat on
irrigated land is 44.37 bushels to the acre, compared with 25.02
bushels on non-irrigated land; of Banner oats, 96.23 bushels, as
against 61.26 bushels; and of 2-rowed barley, 70.35 bushels as
against 40.22  bushels.
Large  Demonstration   and  Supply  Farm  maintained by
the Canadian Pacific Railway at Strathmore, Alta.
At the beginning of 1913, a radical change was made in the
methods by which the Canadian Pacific Railway had hitherto been
selling its land holdings in Western Canada, which included the Irrigation Block in Southern Alberta. This change had a very direct bearing on the aggressive colonization policy which the company desired to
press forward. All unsold land was withdrawn entirely from sale for
speculative purposes, and dealings have since been conducted only with
those who give assurance of their intention of residing upon and developing the land they purchase. The settlers who flock to Western Canada
come from the United States, other parts of Canada, the British Isles
and Northern Europe, and it was to attract the best of these that the
following proposition was framed.
Firstly, the period over which the payment of land was spread
has been extended from ten to twenty years. Secondly, to approved
applicants there is available a loan to the value of $2,000 for the
purpose of permanent farm improvements, repayable, also, in twenty
years. To settlers who have the requisite knowledge and accommod t-
tion, an advance of live-stock to the value of $1,000 is made on easy
terms of credit.
Where the loan of $2,000 is used, the following conditions are
required to be observed. The purchaser (who must be a married man
with agricultural experience) must have sufficient capital to enable him
to pay the first instalment on the land and one-twentieth of the amount
of the loan desired, together with the amount necessary to maintain his
family for a year; as well as owning, free from encumbrance, or having
the means to purchase, sufficient horses and implements to enable him to
go into occupation and proceed with the development of his land.
After the acceptance of his application, the company will expend
a sum not exceeding $2,000 for improvements, namely, and in the order
stated, the erection of a house and barn (both of which are to be
selected from the company's standard plans), fencing, and the provision
of a well and pump. The cost of these improvements will be paid by
the Company and charged against the advance; and the purchaser,
with any stock or equipment he has, will, at the company's discretion,
be employed in connection therewith at current rates of labor. The
total amount of the advance will be added to the price of the land and
the repayment of the whole spread over twenty equal annual instalments
with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. The purchaser must enter
into occupation within six months from the completion of the improvements and must undertake to reside thereon continuously for five years,
and to break, cultivate and crop certain stated areas in each quarter
section and to maintain during the required period of occupancy at least
three milch cows for each quarter section. The maximum amount of
land sold to one man under this policy is 320 acres.
Page   Twenty-three CANADIAN    PACIFIC     RAILWAY     COMPANY'S
Here, as elsewhere, the breeding of live-stock is the basis of every prosperous
Irrigation  community.
Where a purchaser prefers not to avail himself of the loan, he <s
required to enter into occupation within six months from the date of
purchase, to occupy his lands the six summer months in the five years
following the purchase, to undertake to build a house costing at least
$350 and a barn costing at least $200, capable of accommodating four
horses and four cows, to keep the buildings insured against loss from
fire, to sink a well, fence the land, and break and crop a stated area io
■each quarter section, or in lieu maintain a stated number of live stock
which are his own unencumbered property. The maximum amount
of land sold under this policy to one man is 1,280 acres.
The Company, some three or four years ago, inaugurated its now
well-known "Ready Made Farm" scheme. This was primarily designed for the benefit of the British yeoman farmer who, although desirous of emigrating to Western Canada, was not disposed to undertake
the pioneer work necessarily entailed in building a new home on the
prairies; but the scheme has since been extended to allow of the par-
ticipation of farmers from the United States or Canada. The advantages of a "ready made farm" are that it provides a settler with a home
for himself and family immediately upon arrival, and that the farm is
almost immediately revenue-producing. The size of the farms varies,
but the majority of them are 160 acres. The improvements are the
same as in the case of the "loan farm," with the addition of the breaking and cultivation of a certain area, varying from 50 to 100 acres,
which is, if desired, seeded as well. The farms are sold at the price
of raw land, plus the cost of improvements. The Company has now
21 "colonies" of these farms, comprising over 400 farms either developed or being developed, and the majority of these are within the Irrigation Block.
Irrigable land is sold on any of the three methods outlined above,
but in no case is more than 320 acres sold to one man.
Colonization is not merely the sale of land. Any agency that
ceases its efforts with locating the settler in his new home has not fulfilled its mission. There may be new conditions with which the newcomer is unacquainted. It is highly desirable that the new farm shall
make some return as quickly as possible, to balance the investment put
into it; and when difficult problems arise, as they are almost bound to
do under novel surroundings, it is equally desirable that advice should
be available and assistance within reach. The success of any colonization agency is directly co-related with the success of every individual
settler, and therefore the highest endeavor is that which watches the
settler's progress from year to year and is as eager to help him after he
has located, as it was to secure him before.
The Canadian Pacific Railway has adopted such a policy. '.n
its campaign for the advancement of agriculture, it takes it as a fundamental principle that only a diversified system of farming will bring th-5
Canadian prairies to their highest and most economical production.
Every effort is accordingly made to turn the Western farmer from one-
crop systems to methods involving the raising on every farm of fodders,
Page   Twenty-five CANADIAN    PACIFIC     RAILWAY     COMPANY'S
grains, vegetables, roots and live-stock. It has already been stated that
to approved settlers live-stock to the value of $1,000 is advanced on
easy terms of credit. In addition to this, the company has established
throughout the West twelve "mixed farms," of generally one-quarter
section each, the purpose of which is to serve as strategic centres in the
campaign for mixed farming and to show just what operations can be
profitably carried on on the small farm. Five of these farms are situated in the Province of Alberta. At Strathmore, a large demonstration farm of 3,100 acres is operated, at which cream, poultry and
eggs are purchased from farmers in the surrounding districts and sold
to the dining-car and hotel departments of the railway.
From time to time various competitions have been started, including two for the raising of alfalfa, one for tree-planting, and others
for live-stock raising, of which latter the most interesting was a steer-
feeding competition for farmers' boys. Pure-bred bulls for service are
placed at various points, at an insignificant charge. Alfalfa and
timothy seed have been supplied on credit in the Irrigation Block. In
conjunction with the provincial departments of agriculture, the company
has run agricultural demonstration trains on its system in the west, these
trains carrying exhibits of pure-bred stock and grains and manned by
agricultural experts and lecturers.
It is of the greatest importance that the laws under which irrigation
is practised should be so framed as to avoid discord or dispute. In
some States, as much money has been swallowed up in litigation as upon
actual development.
Some of the leading experts of the continent have said that the
Canadian laws and their administration approach as nearly perfection
as possible. The United States Department of Agriculture, in Bulletin 96, recommends the Canadian laws to the consideration of those
whose duty it is to prepare irrigation laws for use in those States where
irrigation is practised or likely to be practised.
Some Products  of  Irrigation  in  Alberta
One of the essential differences is that while south of the line each
state makes its own irrigation laws, in Canada there is only one law, a
federal law. The fact that irrigation is practised in Canada only in the
West does not weaken the strength of this distinction, for it makes any
action that might arise correspondingly important. The oversight of
all irrigation enterprises is in the care of a special Irrigation Department
acting under the Department of the Interior, and its supreme head, the
Minister of the Interior, holds a portfolio as a member of the cabinet
of Canada.
The ownership of water is distinct from the ownership of land,
and as the granting of land can only be done by a patent from the
Crown (that is, the Government of the Dominion of Canada), so,
similarly, the property in and the right to the use of any inland body of
water of any kind is vested in the Crown alone, and the utilization of
water for irrigation or any other purposes can be granted only by a
licence from the Crown. In other words, the title for the water rights,
while separate from the title for the land, is equal to and as good as
the latter.
Every promoter of an irrigation enterprise must apply to the Minister of the Interior for a licence to perform the preliminary work in the
location of the proposed works, and must file a plan showing especially
the source of supply, the position of the intake, and the location of the
main canals and ditches. These plans and all details are on file for
public inspection for thirty days, after which, if there has been no protest made against the granting of the water-rights desired, the construction of the system is authorized, with, if necessary, any changes that are
indicated by the engineering advisers of the Department. When the
works are completed, and after an examination by the chief engineer of
the Department, a licence is issued to the applicant for the quantity of
water to which he is entitled. These licences rank in priority of application, and no one can obtain any undue supply of water until those
who precede him are satisfied.
It is further laid down that where any works constructed are not
of sufficient capacity to carry the full volume of water to which rights
have been acquired, the right shall be limited to the actual capacity
only. It is also enacted that no licensee shall, after the expiration of
four years' time from the construction of the works, discriminate in
prices charged to water-users, and that where the amount of water
agreed to be supplied by a licensee to a water-user is not available, then
each water-user must be supplied in the same proportion that his usual
supply bears to the whole volume. The amalgamation of irrigation
companies is subject in every case to the preservation of the rights of
every individual dependent upon the water supply. Complaints of bad
service are made to the Minister of the Interior, who may order an inspection and where necessary remedy any defect. The Minister has
powers to expropriate any irrigation works at any time if it is within the
public interest.
Page  Twenty-eight IRRIGATION    SYSTEMS    IN    ALBERTA
Amongst the powers conferred on the Minister of the Interior
are:—to define the manner in which the measure of water shall be
arrived at, to define the duty of water according to locality and soil, to
define the portion of the year during which water shall be used for irrigation, to regulate the extent of diversion from rivers, streams, lakes
or other waters, to regulate the water rates which may be charged by
licensees to water-users and the manner in which water is to be supplied
to persons entitled to it, whether continuously or at intervals, to make
observations on the volume of water in all waterways, and to take any
necessary steps to protect the sources of water supply and to prevent
any act likely to diminish or injure the supply.
These regulations are not, of course, designed to impede irrigation development, but to ensure that the water-user is given a square
deal. In the case of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's irrigated lands, the water-user enters into an interim water-agreement fixing
the rental he is to pay for water, and when he has paid in full for his
land and has secured the title thereto, the interim agreement is superseded
by a final water-agreement of a similar tenor. The Canadian Pacific
Railway Company, recognizing that in a few fields of agricultural endeavor is the principle of co-operation so successful as in irrigation,
affords every facility for the formation of Water-Users' Associations,
comprising consumers located on any distributary ditch system, leaving
such bodies to arrange the proper rotation and finally to transfer the
delivery of water and the supervision of the maintenance of the distributary ditches to elected representatives.
Seven years ago, the growing importance of irrigation in this
country led to the formation of the Western Canada Irrigation Association—the first, and until now the only, organization of its kind in
Western Canada.     The original "Official Call" said:—
"It is gradually dawning in the minds of thinking people that
the most significant development in agriculture that Western Canada
has  yet  witnessed  is  the  movement  to  utilize  the  great  mountain
Page   Twenty-nine CANADIAN    PACIFIC     RAILWAY     COMPANY'S
streams in aiding the farmer largely to eliminate the element of uncertainty from his operations. . . . The development is yet
in its infancy. Our mountain ranges contain natural reservoirs only
awaiting the finishing touches of skill and labor to save water sufficient to irrigate vast areas, in addition to those that are now or can
be provided for by our normal water supply. A propaganda so
vast and fraught with such far-reaching interests, that enter so closely
into the whole problem of Western Canada's colonization and future
prosperity, is of deep concern to every resident of the great West, and
imperatively demands the impetus, constructive guidance and moulding influence that can only be brought to bear most effectively through
a strong permanent organization."
Top—The   Great   Alberta   Hog;   Bottom,   Harvesting   Timothy.
The first convention was held in Calgary in July 1907, and was
attended by over one hundred enthusiastic delegates; the eighth convention, held at Penticton, B.C., in August of this year, was attended by
many times that number. With membership increased until it now includes almost everyone prominent in the colonization and agricultural
improvements of the west, the association has grown equally in prestige.
Supported by grants from the provincial governments of Alberta and
British Columbia, and from the federal government of Canada, it is.
actively engaged in forwarding the interests of all irrigation farmers;
and the success which has attended its operations have been marked.
The basis of representation at the conventions, as established by the
constitution, is wide, providing for the presence of all connected in any
way with the theory or practice of irrigation, whether from the engineering or colonization aspects, of delegates from the forestry, hydrographic,
experimental farm and conservation services of Canada, civil engineers,
land surveyors, railway companies, newspapers, agricultural, forestry,
horticultural, live-stock and affiliated associations, municipal, village
and rural organizations, and all Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce and kindred bodies in the three provinces mentioned above.
Page  Thirty-one   


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