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Alberta Genealogical Society

Index to Alberta Homestead Records
1870 to 1930

 

Our Centennial Project in Celebration of Alberta's 100th Birthday

Dedicated to our forefathers whose determination, sacrifices, hardships
and pioneering spirit have provided us with a prosperous
and progressive province, rich in heritage and diverse in cultures

The Project

How to View a Homestead File

Alberta Homestead Records

How to Order a Copy of a Homestead File

The Database

Ask a Question / Forward a Correction
 

Other Useful Links

Search the Index

The Project

The Province of Alberta celebrates its Centennial on September 1, 2005, and the 100th Anniversary Committee requested projects to celebrate this important event. In response, the Alberta Genealogical Society proposed the creation of an all-name index to the homestead files on 686 reels of microfilm at the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA).

Finding a particular homestead file on these reels is a tedious, error-prone, multi-step process, and PAA staff spent considerable time guiding researchers through the steps. A new name index would lead the researcher directly to the reel and file number.

A Library and Archives Canada website provides land descriptions for those who obtained final homestead patent (title) between 1870 and 1930, but does not include the names of those who, for any reason, did not complete the homesteading process. An all-name index would include all these persons, as well as many others who had some 'interest' in the land.

On November 10, 2001 the Alberta Genealogical Society endorsed a proposal to produce a comprehensive, integrated, all-name index to Alberta's homestead records and, with PAA cooperation, the project was on its way. Dedicated members and friends of the Alberta Genealogical Society volunteered thousands of hours over the next four years to create this birthday gift for the Province of Alberta.

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The Homestead Records

Under the Dominion Lands Act, once Crown land had been surveyed and officially declared available for settlement, individuals could apply to homestead a quarter section (160 acres) of their choice. Then, after paying a $10 filing fee and 'proving up' their homestead claim (occupying the land for at least three years and performing certain improvements, including building a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land), the homesteader could apply for patent (title) to the land.

Dominion Lands Branch in Ottawa managed the homesteading process, although business was conducted at local land agency offices throughout the Province. When each quarter section was homesteaded for the first time it was given a file number and all documents relating to that quarter were placed on file until the land patent was granted.

Control of natural resources was transferred to the provinces in 1930 and records of active transactions were turned over to the Province. Documents related to patented lands, abandoned claims and other dormant records were also transferred to the Province in 1956. These records were microfilmed and the originals destroyed. The resulting 686 microfilm reels were transferred to the PAA and are found in Accession 1970.313. It is this collection that has been indexed by Alberta Genealogical Society volunteers.

Homestead files normally contain:

  • An application for homestead, containing the applicant's name, age, birthplace, last residence, prior occupation, number of adults and children in household.
  • An application for patent, containing name, age, occupation, post office, nationality, residency information, wife/children (no names), breaking/cropping, livestock, buildings, fencing.
  • A notice that patent (title) has been issued.

Questions asked on a homestead application in:

Homestead files may also contain many other documents, such as inspector's reports, records of abandonment, handwritten letters, wills, naturalization certificates, scrip, seed grain liens, court proceedings, etc. Researching these files for family history purposes can be very rewarding.

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The Database

The following information was extracted from the homestead files:

  • Film number in PAA Accession 1970.313
  • File number
  • Legal Land Description (Section, Township, Range, Meridian)
  • Place name (when no legal land description listed)
  • Surname
  • Given name(s)

    The database also includes organizations extracted from the records. To search for these, include any of the following in the surname field: Cemetery, Churches, Company, Indian Band, Municipality, Police, Ranch, Reservation, and School District.

Although every effort has been made to achieve accuracy in the data, there may be errors due to hard to read handwriting, variations in spelling of surnames, recording of file numbers, etc. If, in your research, you discover mistakes please let us know and it will be corrected.

Please note that variations of spelling in given names and surnames within a file have been added as separate records in the data.

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How to View a Homestead File

The microfilmed homestead files (PAA Accession 1970.313) can be viewed in the Reading Room at the PAA. With the film and file numbers from the Homestead Index the researcher now has easy access to all files of interest. Microfilm readers and printers are available.

Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA)
8555 Roper Road
Edmonton Alberta
Phone: 780-427-1750

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Wednesday - 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
The PAA is closed to the public on Sunday and Monday.

In most cases the files on a reel are in numerical order. However the researcher should be aware that this is not always the case and it may take a little searching to find the correct file. Consulting the list of file numbers inserted in each reel box can often help locate out of order files.

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How to Order a Copy of a Homestead File

Contact the Alberta Genealogical Society if you are interested in obtaining copies of a homestead file.

Send your request by e-mail to:

homestead8@abgensoc.ca

Or by regular mail to:

Research Services Committee
Alberta Genealogical Society
162, 14315 - 118 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta

T5H 4S6 Canada

Note: There is a fee for copies.

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Ask a Question / Forward a Correction

If you have questions about the project, database or have found errors in the data please contact the Alberta Genealogical Society.

Send an e-mail to:

homestead8@abgensoc.ca

Or regular mail to:

Research Services Committee
Alberta Genealogical Society
162, 14315 - 118 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta

T5H 4S6 Canada

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Other Useful Links

Additional Information on Homestead Records can be found at the following sites
Dave Obee's Family History Page Finding Aid: Prairie Land Records
Glenbow Archives Canadian Pacific Railway Land Sales Database
Library and Archives Canada Western Land Grants (1870-1930)
Provincial Archives of Alberta
Homestead Records at the Provincial Archives of Alberta
Saskatchewan GenWeb Homestead Records
Saskatchewan Homestead Index Project Homestead Records
Saskatchewan Homestead Index Search the Saskatchewan Homestead Index file locator database to the homestead files at the Saskatchewan Archives

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Last Updated: November 14, 2012