Leeds nostalgia: free farms offer for Canada & woman survives Bradford gas explosion

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Saturday February 4, 1899: In 1899, newspaper appeals urging people to emigrate to Canada and other colonies, were commonplace.

It was a time when emigres with the right skills could expect to land themselves vast tracts of land for nothing. One report had it that farmers and suchlike could expect to find themselves running farms of 160 acres in size. It was a tempting option for many, especially as Europe was constantly being fought over, with many in the pit of poverty.

The High Commissioner of Stratchcona, Vancouver, wrote to the Yorkshire Post extolling the virtues of emigrating.

He gushed: “With a territory nearly as large as Europe its inhabitants are not more numerous than London... Free farms of 160 acres are offered to settlers in Manitoba and the North West Territories, where thousands of square miles of land remains unoccupied... I mention also the great mineral wealth of the dominion. It’s fisheries, forests of timber and growing manufacturing industries.”

He went on: “Canada seems to have entered upon an era of prosperity... The persons wanted in the dominion are persons with capital, agriculturalists, tenant farmers, young men desiring to learn farming, male and female farm servants and domestic servants.”

In other news, there was a report of a gas explosion in Bradford, at No 12 Dallam Street, one of a row of back-to-back tenements in the occupation of Miss Clara Peckover, a weaver. The report read she retired to bed a little after midnight and shortly after smelt gas. When she got up to leave and opened the door, the whole house exploded around her but she had a miraculous escape, falling with her bed into the room below and lived to tell the tale.