Westworld Alberta

Summer 2015

Westworld Alberta

Issue link: http://westworldmagazine.ama.ab.ca/i/508029

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Page 65 of 67

The Lay of the Land by Tracy Hyatt | photo by Darren Jacknisky U krainians, Poles, Russians, Icelanders, Estonians. ey came by the thousands from all over Europe to settle the Canadian Prairies. In turn, the federal government gave them a free quarter section (65 hectares) of land. All they had to do was build a house, cultivate the untilled soil and promise to stay three years. Building a temporary shelter before winter arrived was the first hardship they faced. With nary a tree in sight, nor building supplies, they constructed their first homes from the only material on hand: the land itself. ey sliced the thick sod, held together by deeply rooted Prairie grasses – into roughly 60-centimetre-long, 10-centimetre-thick strips and stacked them like bricks to form tiny A-frame houses. ese structures offered cool respite from summer heat and insulation from cold winters. e more elaborate sod houses were plastered with clay and lined with decorative wall- paper, or even divided into multiple rooms. Nevertheless, it was tough living. e sod houses were meant to be temporary struc- tures, but some pioneers lived in them for years, until they could afford to build permanent wooden homes. By far the largest group of early settlers in Alberta were Ukrai- nian, and one of the finest examples of a sod house can be seen at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, outside Edmonton. W 66 W E S T W O R L D A L B E R T A | S U M M E R 2 0 1 5 ROADSIDE Members save 10% on admission to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. AMARewards.ca/ Ukrainian

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