Between 1896 and 1914 roughly 170,000 Ukrainians and 110,000 Poles immigrated to Canada. This wave of settlement was largely due to changes in Canadian immigration policy. To protect its interests, the Canadian government realized that it needed to aggressively encourage people to come to the Prairies. When efforts to attract settlers from Western Europe fell short, the agricultural workers of Eastern Europe were targeted. Immigration rules were relaxed and hundreds of thousands of promotional pamphlets were distributed.
Many people took advantage of the opportunity in order to escape difficult political and economic conditions in their home countries.
Often the new arrivals settled in ‘ethnic blocks’, with people from the same region, village or family taking homesteads close to one another. This led to the creation of strong, tight-knit ethnic communities. Since St. Albert was already well established, those who came here became part of the existing settlement, adding to the increasingly diverse cultural mix.
National boundaries in Europe changed often during the 19th and 20th centuries, making it sometimes difficult to clearly identify the country of origin of St. Albert’s Slavic immigrants. No matter what their origins, the Polish, Ukrainian and Russian people that chose to settle here have made great contributions to the development of the community.