To encourage settlement in Western Canada, the Dominion Government offered a grant for a free homestead of 160 acres for a $10 registration fee to those individuals and families who were prepared to live on and cultivate the land during a qualifying period of time. Millions of people from around the world flocked to the Canadian prairies to take advantage of these land grants.
Pioneer women faced many obstacles in the new land. They shared the workload on the homestead with their husbands.
These women endured many hardships such as poverty, loneliness, sickness and danger. In most cases, these women overcame all obstacles.
At times, they took full responsibility for the homestead, family and livestock. As they worked through these difficult years, they began to see that though they contributed equally to whatever venture the husband and wife were involved in, they were not considered equals in either culture or law.
The Pioneer Woman Sculpture committee wants to commemorate these pioneer women of the Weyburn area with a bronzed sculpture as a way to remind the public and generations to come of the strength and courage of these women.
Ross McMurtry said he had heard many stories about these women and he was impressed with the stories they had to tell.
"It was very interesting and sometimes almost beyond belief. My admiration for these women has grown. How they handled the loneliness, isolation and the physical hard work," he said.
The sculpture of a young mother with a small child at her feet and a baby on her hip will be constructed by Studio West Bronze Foundry and Gallery out of Cochrane, Alberta.
"The sculpture tells a story in itself. The early settlers brought a lot of children into the world on the prairies," said McMurtry.
A clay model will be sent for approval to the committee prior to bronzing the full size model. The City of Weyburn Parks department and the committee are working together to find the perfect location for the model.
"The city will take ownership of the sculpture once it arrives and the foundation on which it will stand," said McMurtry.
In addition to the sculpture, the committee is also seeking stories of the pioneer women from the area. The committee is inviting anyone with a story to tell about their ancestors from the area to submit that story.
"There are stories to be told. We are hoping to have them published in some form, possibly a book," said McMurtry.
The committee is taking donations to help bring this sculpture to Weyburn. They are currently half way to their goal of $120,000.