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Northeastern Alberta

Northeastern part of Alberta was also an early settlement area for Francophones. Fur traders and voyageurs had passed through the area for years, and some had established agricultural plots around the forts and outposts. However, the main rush of settlement in Northeastern Alberta began when the Saint-Paul-des-Métis colony was winding down. This is when the land was surveyed for homesteader claims.

The beginnings of settlement in this area were not easy. The Ministry of the Interior required that a railroad must be available for the farmers to support sale of livestock and cereals, and to transport incoming merchandise at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the railroad was not yet built and would not be for many years.

Many French-speaking settlers took homesteads, and eventually the region became known as "Alberta-North," and also "Little Quebec."

Sometimes, if the centre was important enough, a church was constructed. Regardless of their success at the time, few of these centres exist today. At the height of the French settlement in the Northern Alberta region there were the communities Lafond, Foisy, Lavoie, St. Lina, Bordenave, Thérien, St. Vincent, La Corey, St. Édouard, Grand Centre, and Bonnyville.

The names of the communities were not always French.

Although the names of the settlements were sometimes deceiving, French was the language of choice by many in these Alberta communities.

The priests and Bishop Legal encouraged settlers to take homesteads further and further north to the very edge of the boreal forest.

Eventually homesteading in the more marginal areas within the boreal forest was discouraged by the government agents. Still, communities established in the Lac La Biche area included Brièreville, Grandin, Gourin, Plamondon and Normandeau. Many settlers were Franco-Americans, and a group, those of Gourin, all came from a small town of the same name in Brittany, France.


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