“McBride witnessed its first land rush on Monday [June 1st, 1914], when a long line was marshalled by the provincial constables under supervision of Mr. T. W. Hearne, the Government Agent at Fort George, and Mr. Gordon Smith, of the Department of Lands, who came from Victoria to make arrangements for opening 322 tracts of land to the east and west of McBride…About one hundred applicants took up pre-emptions on the first days…It was a case of first come first served… The first man to record was W. J. Taylor, who had spent a month awaiting the opening. Some others had spent three weeks and others from two weeks to several days. A number of the applicants were squatters who had spent some time on the land…” The Journal, June 4th, 1914
Pre-emption was a process that allowed a piece of land to be bought from the government for minimal money, but required that a certain amount be cleared each year and a dwelling built.
Those that lined up were given a number by Constable Walker so that the next day, they could line up in the same order. In addition to Taylor, Joe Morgan and John Oakley (who both settled in Eddy) were at the front of the line. The process was very civilized with Mr. Smith even erecting a tent a few days before the sale for the men to stand under during wet weather.
Top: In line at Armstrong and Ellis , 1914. Valley Museum and Archives, Walker Fonds
Bottom: Settlers lined up along Main Street to pre-empt land in 1914. The tent between Armstrong and Ellis and the City Bakery was to protect those lines up from wet weather. Ray Sansom Collection