Barons is a village in southern Alberta located 51 kilometres north of Lethbridge along Highway 52. According to Statistics Canada, as of 2006, Barons had a population of 276. In 2004, the village proudly celebrated 100 years in existence. Known for their agricultural productivity, residents of the village aptly call their home the 'Wheatheart of the West'.

Settlers started arriving in the Barons area in 1902 and 1903. A great many more came during the following two years. The pioneers brought their basic staples like flour, sugar and tobacco from Lethbridge, Granum and Claresholm, travelling by foot or by wagon. When grain became available for sale, the farmers often travelled in groups to the same towns in case help was needed along the trail. Prairie fires were a common occurrence and farmers ploughed fireguards around buildings to prevent loss of property. Fast-spreading grass fires were a threat and resulted in serious loss of feedstock for cattle and horses.

Besides freedom, the availability of a quarter-section (160 acres) of homestead land for a $10.00 fee attracted settlers from many countries, including Estonians. They worked hard to build shelters for family and livestock to live in, to fell trees and to break sod, and to fence the property. Money was earned in mines, sawmills and railroad construction, enabling the settlers to acquire oxen and horses for transportation and land-clearing, and to purchase construction materials and food staples.

By spring of 1909, the Canadian Pacific Railway station, initially named Baron, became known as Barons. Much of the land in the district was brought under cultivation around World War I. The 1920s brought drought and wind, and the rich topsoil was blown into ditches. Farming methods were developed to reduce soil drifting. Cultivators with a blade passing under the soil left the stubble and thrash on top to prevent the soil from blowing away.

Additional information can be found in History - Alberta Estonian Settlements - Barons

The landscape looking north from Barons in southern Alberta. During the 1960s, Barons featured nine grain elevators indicating the importance of agriculture and its impact on the local economy. Victor Erdman's house serves as a backdrop for a large group of friends and relatives in 1930. Gate to the Barons Cemetery in 2004.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage