By 1881, the Dominion land surveyors had divided the eastern part of this province into townships. It was necessary to divide the land so that one could find the exact location of a quarter section, for the purpose of registering a homestead or fencing your land within your own boundaries.
A township consists of 36 sections, a section is a mile square. So every six miles in a westerly direction, you have one higher number, known as the range line; and every six miles in a northerly direction you have a line, known as the township line, each one a higher number; and then again numbered by a meridian line. The surveying crews would run a straight line at every mile they would dig four holes in the form of a square, throwing the dirt up as a mound in the center. In the center of this mound there was a driven square pin, or iron, with the number of the section, the township and the range and meridian, cut in Roman numerals with a chisel. You were always able to tell your exact location when you found one of these corner mounds.
In 1881, the Dominion surveyed a township of 36 sections which became Stirling Township. The first recorded settlers arrived in 1882 and homesteaded on the south end of a crescent-shaped lake. The town's name was changed from Stirling to Saltcoats. This name was chosen because the Allen Steamship Line's home port was Saltcoats, Scotland, which brought immigrants from the British Isles.
The following notes were recorded by T. Drummond in 1880 regarding Township #24:
"The surface on all the boundaries is the rolling prairie. The north is covered with thick scrub and some poplar bluffs and the soil is a fine gravelly loam; class 1, except near an alkaline lake in sections 35 and 36. On the west for the first four miles going north the soil is a rich clay loam, gravely in a few places, and the loand rates class 1. From thence it is class 2 and 3, the soil being gravelly and light. There are a good many scattered marshes. The east contains poplar bluffs, and occasional wet places where there is thick willow scrub. The soil is a rich clay loam; class 1."
A sub-division was surveyed in 1882 by J. J. Burrows his report recorded:
"There are two lakes and several creeks of good water, although a few ponds have an alkaline taste. The soil is a rich heavy clay loam. There is not much building timber."