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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund


Francophone Edukit

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Church in MorinvilleMorinville is named after Jean-Baptiste Morin who, in 1890, was tasked with drawing French-Canadian settlers from Quebec to the West. In 1891, he arrived with his first recruits, and some of the first inhabitants of Morinville were called Boissonnault, Brissette, Champagne, Chevalier, Cousineau, Desmarais, Dupuis, Hittinger, Houle, Levasseur, Riopel, Rivet, and Tellier. The community built the first chapel two miles west of the current townsite. 20 December 1891, marks the appointment of Father Amédée Harnois as the first parish priest of the new parish St. Jean Baptiste. In 1892, the community established a post office and named it Morinville.

Father Morin was the first in a list of French pastors in Morinville that included Father Amédée Harnois, Reverend J. M. Jolicoeur, Father J. A. Ethier, Father Alexis Gauthier, and Father Maxime Pilon. These men served the spiritual needs of inhabitants while contributing to the community through fund-raising, art, the promotion of the region to the outside world, and the organization of religious and social activities. In 1894, Father Morin published a pamphlet entitled Le Nord-Ouest Canadien et ses ressources agricoles (The Canadian North-West and its Agricultural Resources) to attract people to the region.

Morinville Hotel, 1913.Morinville grew rapidly due in part to being just north of Edmonton, and after the discovery of coal in the area. Morinville became a village by 1908 (under chairman J. S. Paquin) and then a town by 1911 (under Mayor Hormidas Boissonnault). The community modernized equally fast—by the turn of the century, the hamlet was connected through a telephone line to Edmonton, and by 1926, electricity was powering choice establishments. Churches, stores, grain elevators, and businesses appeared and thrived.

A short history of the Morinville area.

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An early brick yard in Morinville.French culture was often at the forefront of Morinville’s progress. In 1902, Father Ethier helped to establish a community of nuns, ("les Filles de Jésus," or "the Daughters of Jesus"), a French religious teaching order, in Morinville. A new Roman Catholic church was built in 1905, and coincided with the arrival of the railway and the formal creation of Alberta. In 1909, the third French newspaper in Alberta (arriving after "l’Ouest Canadien" and "le Courrier de l’Ouest"), "le Progrés" was started in Morinville by Wilfrid Gariépy. It was published until August 1915.

Today Morinville is a flourishing town of approximately 6,500 people and growing as a bedroom community for Edmonton. The community revisits its pioneer roots with the Pioneer Spirit Fair, held each June; the Catholic St. Jean Baptiste Youth Group bearing the name of the patron saint; and the annual French celebration that is still observed by many Franco-Albertans. Three Morinville schools offer French immersion at various grade levels.


The Morinville Heritage Society. The Morinville Book of Pictorial History. The Morinville Heritage Society. Morinville, Alberta. 1981.


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