The Heritage Community Foundation extends its heartfelt thanks to Simon Pagé who allowed us to reprint his texts on the francophone history of Edmonton — texts drawn from those presented to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alberta (Autumn 1998) in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Educational Studies.
At the end of the 1800s, Edmonton was undergoing important changes that would eventually lead to its being named Alberta’s capital city in 1905. The railway had arrived; massive immigration was about to start; Edmonton and the surrounding villages were welcoming people from different backgrounds. In brief, Western Canada was developing more and more.
One can no longer underestimate the important presence of Edmonton’s French-speaking community at the end of the 19th century. Three main religious figures at that time were Father Lacombe, Bishop Grandin, and Father Morin. Among the important businessmen in Edmonton were Joseph-Henri Picard, George Roy, Stanislaus Larue, and Joseph-Hormidas Gariépy. Proof is plentiful: French-speaking newspapers were published and businesses were built in the heart of the city. French-speaking institutions were set up for the whole community: schools, hospitals, and churches. Members of the French-speaking community were nominated and even elected at the municipal level as Catholic School Board officials and even as members of the Assembly of the North-West Territories.