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La Cité francophone

Most Franco-Albertans still live in the rural areas and communities where their families settled. But many have moved to the cities. Edmonton and Calgary have city districts with exciting Francophone heritage.

The first residents of Alberta's urban centers were primarily French-speaking Métis and French-Canadians from Québec. Many saw new business opportunities and work in Calgary and Edmonton. The Bonnie Doon district of Edmonton is home to a large percentage of the province's Francophone population. It is affectionately called "la Cité francophone" and also Edmonton's "French Quarter." The area is the hub of French life in the city. A cultural centre, Francophone high school, church, seniors' centre, the Campus Ste-Jean and student residences all call Bonnie Doon home. They line the main street, la Rue Marie-Anne Gaboury (91 Street).

Edmonton is also home to one of Alberta's most beautiful Francophone monuments. St. Joachim Church is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Edmonton, and was founded by Father Lacombe. The parish began in 1838 and the present church was built in 1899. It is a provincial historic resource. Services continue in French (2005). The parish area is the starting point for many of the Francophone community's associations and societies.

A "French quarter" is not only a geographical location. The French community is not buildings but groups and associations. The French Quarter is ideas, a language, and a shared way of life for the group.

Francophones in the Edmonton area have kept much of their heritage and cultural identity. Today, Beaumont remains the only French-Canadian community south of Edmonton, due to a solid French-Canadian population and pride in the past.

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