MP-0000.25.420 | Horse teams ploughing, Prairies, about 1895

Photograph, glass lantern slide
Horse teams ploughing, Prairies, about 1895
Topley Studio
About 1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 8 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  farming (278) , Industry (942) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The men and women who came to the Prairies to establish farms did not have to clear the land of trees, as farmers in the east had to do. The prairie soil was, however, tough, with a thick mat of grass roots. The steel plough, which had been invented in the 1830s, was an essential tool for the farmers. Some farms were a long way from the nearest tree, and lacking lumber, farmers sometimes built their first houses out of the tough buffalo-grass sod. They were warm and usually dry, but bugs were a problem, and the farmers replaced them with frame houses as soon as they could.

  • What

    A man with a team of horses is ploughing the virgin prairie.

  • Where

    The location is not given. It could be anywhere between Winnipeg and Calgary.

  • When

    Horses were used on prairie farms from the 1880s, when the land was first cultivated, until after World War II. Beginning in the 1920s, they were gradually replaced by tractors.

  • Who

    The man is not identified, but this is unimportant, for he represents tens of thousands of farmers who made their living this way in this era.