Peasants In The Promised Land

Peasants In The Promised Land

Book - 1985
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For many years after Confederation, Canadian governments wrestled with a sorry fact: until the West was settled, Canada was an illogical country. The great nation-building policies of John A. Macdonald's National Policy and the transcontinetal railway could not succeed without a living farm population on the prairies.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Austrian crown lands of Bukovyna and Galicia - part of present-day Ukraine - were overpopulated with "redundant" peasants. Their precarious existence triggered the forces of emigration. More than 170 000 of them sailed for Canada.

Life in the promised land was hard. To begin with, Canadians seemed to think that the only good immigrants were British. Some went so far as to suggest that the Ukrainian newcomers were less than human. Editorialists wondered how "beings bearing the human form could have sunk to such a bestial level."

But on the harsh and remote prairies, the Ukrainians triumphed over the toil and isolation of homesteading. Those who turned to wage work withstood the wretched conditions reserved for the labour of the emerging Canadian industrial system. As the question of education rights split the West on religious lines in the early years of the century, the Ukrainians were caught in the crossfire between French Catholics and English Protestants. Despite all this, the peasants put down roots and prospered.

Peasants in the Promised Land is the first book to focus on the formative period of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. Drawing on exhaustive research, including rich Ukrainian-language archival sources, Jaroslav Petryshyn brings history to life with extracts from memoirs, letters and newspapers of the period. His text is illustrated with maps and historical photographs.
Publisher: Toronto James Lorimer 1985
ISBN: 9780888629265


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