The homesteaders came from all over North America and Western Europe. Along with a large number of Canadians, there were the sons and daughters (or grandchildren) of pioneer families of the American Midwest. English, Irish, Scottish and other European settlers made up the balance of the mix — all willing to stake their future on 160 acres of unproven land in the far Northwest of Canada.
Of 113 settlers who came to the Pouce Coupe Prairie between March of 1912 and October of 1914 — and proved up their claims — 42 were Canadians. Most of these came from Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes. There were 35 Americans among this early group and 17 of Scandinavian origin. Many of these Swedish and Norwegian homesteaders came by way of the United States, having previously taken up land there. British settlers made up less than 5% of the total number and the remainder of the first wave of homesteaders represented a number of countries — Russia, Germany, Luxembourg, France and Austria to name a few.
Hector Tremblay was indisputably the first white settler on the Pouce Coupe Prairie, although a few others like Jules DeWetter actually filed homestead claims before Tremblay did in May of 1912. Because Tremblay and his store had been there for almost a decade, he had a 90 day period in which to claim his farmstead before anyone else could file on it. When other settlers began arriving in numbers, the first stop they made was often Tremblay’s stores for supplies and advice on likely places to look for land.
Mons Laknes, another early settler, walked 300 miles over the Edson Trail in the spring of 1914 with his brother Sigvald to take up land. Son of a Norwegian immigrant, Mons was working as a carpenter in Edmonton when he decided to try his hand at homesteading.
The Marion brothers from Quebec, Oscar and Alphonse, were among the very few settlers who entered the Peace from the west. From Prince George they travelled down the Parsnip and Peace Rivers, hauling boat and goods around the Peace River Canyon at Hudson Hope. They reached the Rolla Landing in late August of 1914, and by September were on their homesteads just north of the present city of Dawson Creek.
The demands of World War I brought new homesteading to a virtual halt for four years, but by then the Pouce Coupe Prairie was showing some signs of permanent settlement with schools and churches being built and some of the raw edges softening with time.