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How do I Get a Homestead on Government Land in Northern Canada?

Fall in northern wilderness, Yukon, Canada

Homesteading in Canada is a thing of the past. Most land that is not owned by a private party is Crown Land and is managed by the government. While all Canadians are entitled to camp on Crown Land for up to 21 days, claiming a piece of land as your own and developing it is illegal and is often referred to as "squatting." There are a few alternatives to homesteading on government land in Northern Canada.

Where Can You Purchase Crown Land?

Northern Canada is divided into three territories – Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The first step is to determine territory you would ideally want to locate your homestead. You may have the most luck in the Yukon, one of the few places where Crown Land is still sold for agricultural purposes. In Northwest Territories and Nunavut, land is much more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

What Kind of Homestead Would You Like?

What you plan to do with the land is very important. To buy Crown Land for homesteading, you must be planning to use it for the benefit of the people and the land itself, and you cannot infringe on the rights of First Nations (indigenous people) or other Canadians. It is imperative that your use of the land is beneficial to the province, such as an eco-tourist destination or a vital crop.

Who Can Apply?

Use the Internet to research the guidelines and limitations in each territory for the purchase of Crown Land. In most places you will find it simply is not possible, but there are a few areas – in the Yukon, mostly – where you can obtain the land under specific rules. To purchase government land in the Yukon, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Crown Land is available if you fall into either of those categories. Additionally, you must be at least 19 years old and have lived in the Yukon for at least one year.

What's the Application Process?

Submit your application to the Agriculture branch of the Department of Energy Mines and Resources of the Yukon government, or the relevant government for the territory you've chosen. Your application must outline how you intend to use the land and declare that you will remain a resident of the territory for the duration of any sale that may result. The application should include a farm development plan, although you normally have up to 60 days to submit this plan. The agriculture branch must approve the plan before your application is accepted.

Understand that claiming land as your own and developing on it without the proper permits is a criminal act. Always go through the red tape to avoid being charged.

What If There's No Land Available?

Consider leasing if there's no land available to buy in your preferred territory. Some Crown Land that was purchased long ago when it was still for sale is now up for lease. You could also try searching for private properties that are for sale. There are many farms in Northern Canada that are privately owned. Often they go for fairly reasonable prices, since the growing season in the north is short and the rural nature of the environment is unattractive to many. Finally, check out communities. You might find a lot for sale that still offers a rural or isolated setting. They are much easier to acquire than government land.

About the Author

Meagan McDougall has been a professional writer since 2006. First appearing in "The Martlet," University of Victoria's student newspaper, she now primarily writes journalistic articles and screenplays. Her focus areas are entertainment, the arts and the environment. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Victoria and a diploma in writing for film and television from Vancouver Film School.

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