Saskatchewan Archives is launching a new online database where genealogists and researchers around the globe will, for the first time, have access to Saskatchewan's homestead information via the World Wide Web. The information is available online at www.saskhomesteads.com and may be purchased as a stand-alone, searchable CD-ROM
The Saskatchewan Homestead Index database contains 360,000 references to the men and women who, under the terms of The Dominion Lands Act, took part in the homestead process in the area now known as Saskatchewan from 1872 to 1930.
It includes those who sold or bought North West Metis or South African veteran scrip or received soldier grants following service in the First World War.
"The digital index will, for the first time, allow researchers to gain a better understanding of how Metis scrip became a commodity for intense speculation during the settlement period," Culture, Youth and Recreation Minister Joan Beatty said. "It will also make it easier for researchers to access the records of women who filed for homesteads in Saskatchewan."
"This is only the first step in making the homestead records more accessible using new technology," Saskatchewan's Provincial Archivist Trevor Powell said. "Each year, members of the public use some 9,000 homestead files and having the index on-line will mean that they can locate the files they need and contact the Archives for copies before ever leaving home. We are very much in the preliminary planning stages, but we hope that the records themselves will some day be completely digitized and available to researchers on the World Wide Web."
The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society and Saskatchewan Archives Board worked in partnership through an advisory committee since 2003 to get the homestead index on-line and on CD-ROM.
President of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, Rocky Sample of Pangman, commended the committee for its work, noting that there has long been an avid interest in the homestead records on the part of local and family historians. "Having easy access via the Internet to the homestead index will be a real boon to genealogists and others interested in the history of the settlement period in Saskatchewan," Sample said.
Completion of the project was made possible through the support of a number of working partners and sponsors including Information Services Corporation (ISC), assisted by EDS and ISM Canada; James Richardson International/Pioneer Grain Company Ltd.; the Metis National Council; the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). The project took nearly three years to complete at a cost of more than $200,000 after all direct-dollar and in-kind contributions and volunteer hours are taken into consideration.
You can access the Saskatchewan Homestead Index at http://www.saskhomesteads.com