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“…unique and unusual:” – Community Progress Competitions

…we had called on a Ukrainian family in northern Saskatchewan only to find that the men were out in the harvest fields and the woman of the family was going along to feed the pigs with two pails of swill. Dr. Murray went up to shake her hand and she put down one pail and shook hands and he picked the pail up and off they went together to feed the pigs. No university president in Western Canada either before or since had ever spent so much time in the homes, community halls, and churches of the Ukrainian, German, Hungarian, and Doukhobor settlements in that province as did Dr. Murray and he did it at a time when this was unique and unusual.


Robert England, a former teacher in Ukrainian communities in Saskatchewan, was by the early 1930s a manager with the CNR, and as such worked on a series of community competitions, effectively assessing the “progress” of immigrant communities in areas such as education, citizenship, and handicrafts. Murray was one of three judges in Saskatchewan. They travelled extensively throughout the province; and the records of the Competition provide a fascinating glimpse into rural life in Saskatchewan at the beginning of the Depression years.