Lassiter Project Collection. — 1953-1954. — 2 cm of textual records.
The Lassiter Project was a scheme devised to encourage returning veterans to settle on farm land in the Peace River Country after World War II. The original agreement was between the Alberta Government and two American businessmen whereby they would clear 100,000 acres of land, and in return receive 30% of the crop for seven years, or $14.00/acre, whichever was more. The land would be made available to veterans in half-section parcels, and for the first seven years each veteran would deliver 1/3 of his crop to the province. After seven years, and with proof that he had fully cropped the land, the veteran would receive clear title. He could also apply for $2,320.00 cash grant from the federal government.
Although the first agreement never materialized, the Alberta government eventually signed with O.B. Lassiter, a large-scale farmer from southern Alberta to clear 120,000 acres in Townships 77-80 and Ranges 23-26, W of the 5th, and Ranges 1-3, W of the 6th Meridian. This agreement did not guarantee Lassiter a minimum payment, but gave him an additional 20,000 acres for his own farm. Clearing started in the fall of 1946, and by August 1947, it was announced that thirty-five half-section parcels were ready for occupation. Names were chosen in a draw, and the veterans and their families began moving in. As more land was cleared, there was not as much demand for the land. If the land was not filed on by 90 days after it was offered, it was made available to the general public.
Even with the land cleared, it was not easy: there were still roots and logs which needed to be picked, water was not readily available, and mosquitos were a constant irritation in the land-working months. There were few roads and travel was mostly by trails between the farms. Also, machinery was expensive and money was scarce for many of the families.
Because the land was marginal and the climate severe, there were also many crop failures, as in 1954-1954. Eventually, a few farms expanded, but many families left the area.
The ledger was created by the Department of Municipal Affairs and discarded at some point. It was rescued by Alan Taylor (Grande Prairie) and Robert Barlund (Wanham), and donated to the Grizzly Bear Prairie Museum at Wanham.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of one ledger detailing crop failures in the Wanham Lassiter Project from 1953-1954. The first part of the ledger has five pages containing a list of landowners, land locations, lease numbers and file numbers. One page of the list covers Township 82, Ranges 10-11, West of the 6th Meridian, which is in the Silver Valley area north-west of Spirit River. The remainder of the book contains township map forms with hand-drawn physical features and the names of landowners for use in crop failure calculations. In the back of the ledger is a ca. 1950 linen map of the Peace Country showing lands surveyed, roads, and communities.