Fonds F1906 - Western Irrigation District fonds

Original Digital object not accessible

Identity area

Reference code



Western Irrigation District fonds


  • 1905-1974, predominant 1910-1939 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4.83 m of textual records.
637 photographs.
ca. 300 technical drawings

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

During the Canadian Pacific Railway's construction of the national railway in the 1880s, it became involved in the sale and settlement of land. Part of the provisions made by the government to the company was a belt of land along the railway. Land grants were administered by the company's Land Department in Winnipeg until 1912 when the responsibility was transferred to its Department of Natural Resources. The administration of land grants was linked to the construction of large irrigation works, which were increasingly being centred in Alberta, therefore the headquarters of the department was moved to Calgary.

In 1903 the company selected a grant in southern Alberta, called the Irrigation Block, upon which to develop irrigation systems. Surveys of the western section of the block (Western Section) began in 1903, and construction was completed in 1910. This section was close to Calgary, headquartered in Strathmore, and consisted of one million acres (400,000 ha). The canal and ditch system served an irrigable area of 218,980 acres (987,600 ha), and was 1,600 miles (2,600 km) in extent. The Project Manager was Robert S. Stockton, who reported to the Chief Engineer, Engineering Branch, Department of Natural Resources in Calgary, A.S. Dawson. In 1944 a new organization, the Western Irrigation District, was formed when the CPR wrote off the farmers' indebtedness and allowed them to run the system as a cooperative. The works, headquarters, land contracts, and unsold land were transferred to the Board of Trustees of the Irrigation District. The CPR retained mineral rights and right-of-way for the railway. Penrose Sauder was appointed general manager of the WID.

For further information see Flow Beyond the Weir : A History of the Western Irrigation District. -- Strathmore : WID, 1994; and L. James Dempsey's article, "The CPR Demonstration and Supply Farm : 1908-1944" in Alberta History, vol.59, no.4 (Autumn, 2011), p. 19-25.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gifts of Western Irrigation District and Provincial Archives of Alberta, 1965-1983.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the Project Manager's diaries (1911-1937); diaries of the canal superintendent, hydrographer, and ditchriders ((1910-1939); correspondence regarding irrigation structures (1907-1935); correspondence regarding the Strathmore demonstration farm, livestock and crops (1944-1974); land records (1912-1950); Project Manager's monthly reports (1912-1935); telephones and electrical equipment reports (1917, 1926-1936); Superintendent of Canals and Water-masters' reports (1910-1944); engineering branch inventories and statements of costs (1912-1922, 1940-1941); meteorological records (1911-1942); financial records (1908-1939); plans for irrigation structures and buildings (1905-1933); photographs of irrigation structures, headquarters, Strathmore demonstration farm, canals, bridges, crops, and livestock (1910-1939); and miscellany (1907-1965).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      The material is in English.

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      Finding aids

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Digital content is available of the Colonel Walker golf lease

      Related units of description

      See also the Gavin N. Houston fonds for photos of the reclassification survey.

      Notes area


      Title based on provenance and contents of records.


      M 6335 is a photocopy of M 6678/14. PA 1209 and NA 2179 are copies of images in NB 69. PD 197 no longer exists as an album, as the prints are being used as the reference prints for NB 69 in the Reference Room.

      Alternative identifier(s)

      Access points

      Subject access points

      Place access points

      Name access points

      Genre access points

      Description control area

      Description identifier

      Institution identifier

      Rules and/or conventions used


      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Tuesday, October 30, 2018




          Digital object (Master) rights area

          Digital object (Reference) rights area

          Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

          Accession area