In 1871, the government of Canada sent surveyors out to measure and describe the prairie segments of the North West Territories and in the process to delineate three prairie provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Because the prairies were so vast and open, surveyors were easily able to lay out a massive grid system with Townships that were 36 miles by 36 miles, divided into Sections that were 1 mile by 1 mile. The Sections, in every case, were numbered from 1-36 , starting with Section 1 in the SW corner and Section 36 in the NE corner of the Township. Each Section was 640 acres.
The Federal Government of the day wanted to open up the prairies so they advertised all over Europe, telling potential immigrants that the soil was not only rich but already flat so they could pretty much just throw some seed around and they’d soon be harvesting prosperity and health off prairie fields. They offered entire quarter Sections (160 acres) for just $10 as long as the settlers agreed to build a house and then clear 10 acres a year.
They didn’t mention the fairly frequent droughts, the extreme cold temperatures and winds of winter, nor the fact that the rich soil was mostly clay and miserable to work. And the people of Europe, barely able even to imagine 160 acres, had no way to anticipate the impact of isolation from services and even neighbours.
So our forebearers who settled in the Gap View in Saskatchewan came from a variety of circumstances to farm vast areas of land that were hard as rock, in extremities of weather almost beyond belief. If they didn’t start out that way, they soon had to become tough, resourceful, resilient and committed to helping each other out (midwifing, barn-raising and quilting bees).
The Gap View was in Township 9 in the SE corner of Saskatchewan. In Section #28 of Township 9, Roderick Ronald claimed the NW quarter, David Beattie the SW quarter, William and Jessie Watson claimed the NE quarter, and George and Mary Beattie the SE quarter. Meanwhile John and Elizabeth Fowlie settled on the NE quarter and their son Alexander Fowlie on the NW quarter of Section #30. All the kids went to the same school and community events.