Harvest Excursions

 Harvest Excursions Before the introduction of the combine, prairie harvests required large numbers of labourers for short periods of time. Harvest excursion trains, 1890-1930, brought workers west - about 14,000 in 1908. Railways offered harvest tickets from any station as far away as the Maritimes to Winnipeg for $15, and a return fare of $20. Excursion trains provided crude accommodation: packed 4 per compartment, passengers slept on slatted wooden seats. Delays, crowding and drunkenness on occasion led to riots. In the 1920s railways demanded and got RCMP detachments on the trains to keep order. The harvesting work paid $1.75-2.25 for a 10-12-hour day with board, and usually lasted 15 days. A threshing crew of perhaps 2 dozen was paid $2-3.25 each a day with board. Although the journey was rough and the work was gruelling, the excursions introduced Canadians and Britons to the Prairies. Many decided to return permanently to HOMESTEAD. The collapse of the wheat economy in 1930 and changing farm technology ended the era of the harvest excursion.