Morinville 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 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
A short history of the Morinville area.
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
The Morinville Heritage Society. The Morinville Book of
Pictorial History. The Morinville Heritage Society.
Morinville, Alberta. 1981.