Shuswap settlers successfully lobbied Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier on his western tour in 1910 to ensure the size of their homesteads was not reduced
When the first settlers began to arrive in mass after the railway was built, they faced enormous legal as well as physical challenges. They arrived to stake out their “free” homesteads” with visions of bountiful harvests of fruits and vegetables only to be faced with years of difficult, back-breaking land clearing and a bureaucratic nightmare that resulted in many of them being labeled as just squatters.
Prior to 1896, there were few permanent settlers in the Shuswap. Other than the early-formed settlements in Chase, Westwold (Grande Prairie), Fortune’s Landing (Enderby) and Sicamous, most of the Shuswap was still vacant land except for the small Indian reserves. With the election of Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, a settlement campaign began called the “the last Best West,” named because by then most of the best land in the U.S. had already been settled. This campaign led to first a trickle and then a flood of settlers moving to the Shuswap.