The Catholic Church contributed significantly to the
French-Canadian settlement of Western Canada. Bishop Alexandre Taché
hoped to have French-Catholic settlers come to the West where they
could reap the benefits of good-quality land and provide a positive
influence for the indigenous population. Another important member of
the clergy, when a campaign was organized to recruit French-Canadian
and francophone Europeans to the West, Taché’s countryman, Father
Albert Lacombe found himself holding a great deal of influence.
This section shall examine a few of the pre-existing communities
in what is now Alberta, some which became important centres. During
the great settlement promotion put on by the Canadian government for
the "Last, Best, West," the French-speaking clergy and businessmen
actively promoted francophone settlers. Settlers were sought in
Quebec; New England and elsewhere in the United States; as well as
in Europe, especially in France and Belgium.
Tall orders: Government requirements of homesteaders in the early West.
In Alberta, the first French-speaking settlers established
themselves in the Edmonton region, while south in Calgary, judge
Charles Rouleau and his brother (a doctor) attracted a small group
of French-Canadians. A series of francophone communities sprung up
in the northeast of the province, but the province-wide settlement
occurred at approximately the same time. A small group of former
French military men settled in central Alberta and named their town
Trochu after their leader. Further south, not far from the American
border in the Rocky Mountains, the coal industry attracted qualified
labour from the North of France and Belgium. Settlement in the
northwest of the province happened a bit later, after 1909, and
several French communities were established, comprised mostly of
settlers from Quebec.