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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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Lamoureux
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Two French-Canadian brothers, Joseph and François Lamoureux, were in Kamloops, British Columbia when they heard from a team of railway surveyors about the wonderful Saskatchewan River valley. The brothers arrived to the area, on horseback, in the autumn of 1872. The two built a shack for the winter on the river’s north bank—just across from where the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) barracks would be built in 1875.

After a mild winter, the brothers decided to settle in the area. François (Frank) married a St. Albert girl in January 1874. That spring, Joseph brought his mother, wife, children, a brother, and a son-in-law from St. Georges d’Iberville, Quebec. Another, sizable group of the Lamoureux family and in-laws arrived from Winnipeg with eight wagons and three carts in the spring of 1883.

These arrivals came to a place that had benefited from Joseph’s and Frank’s entrepreneurial activities. Joseph started farming and raising cattle. In 1874, he and Frank ran a ferry across the Saskatchewan using a small boat. Later they got a cable, and operated (with a few mishaps) a regular ferry until the first bridge was built in 1905. Frank had a small smithy by the ferry and started a sawmill and a flour mill. By virtue of owning a pair of dentist’s pliers, Joseph was also the dentist. Charles Paradis (1892) and Napoleon Auclair (1907) started cheese factories. Most pioneers panned the river for gold.

The Lamoureux brothers were members of school boards, organizers of political meetings, and candidates in elections for the North West Territories Council. They served on church boards. The first church, Notre Dame de Lourdes, was built in July 1877. Father A. J. B. Brunet was the first parish priest. In February 1903, Bishop Legal blessed a new church. It is still used for weddings and funerals.

Lamoureux’s first school, built in 1879, was a small shack near the ferry. In 1884, a school district was officially proclaimed. It was the second in Alberta, and the first that was designated Roman Catholic. A schoolhouse was built in 1886. In 1888, it held 13 pupils. The school was phased out in 1968, having occupied several buildings.

Philip Heiminck, one of Lamoureux’s astute businessmen, was quite a visionary. Heiminck was involved in schools, roads, retail, hotels, railway, and real estate. His dream was to develop the settlement into the hub of the Fort Saskatchewan district—Saskatchewan City. However, Heiminck’s dream did not become reality. Today Lamoureux is a hamlet with 25 dwellings and 56 people. The city, Fort Saskatchewan, has grown on the south bank of the Saskatchewan River.

Source(s):

Berube, Father R. Lamoureux—The Church—The Pioneers.
Edmonton: French Language Services Ltd., 1967.

Lamoureux, Joseph A. Les Lamoureux’ The Pioneers. Fort Saskatchewan: Dependable Printers, 2000.

Ream, Peter T. The Fort on the Saskatchewan. Edmonton: Metropolitan Printing, 1974.
 

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