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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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Villeneuve
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St. Peter's ParishVilleneuve is surrounded by some of the best agricultural lands there are. The Métis had settled the region, and hunted and trapped in the area before Father Jean Baptist Morin brought six families from Quebec in 1891. The immigration continued for the next few years. More people came from Quebec, and some from Kansas. In 1909, 35 francophone families and eight Flemish families arrived.

The settlement got the usual services—a store, a blacksmith, and a post office operated from a private house—quite fast. The first log church, though, wasn’t built until 1897. The Métis Chief Michel Calahoo supplied the logs, and in return asked that the Métis be allowed to worship in the church.

In 1922, the railway missed Villeneuve by about one-and-a-half kilometres. Nevertheless, the Canadian Northern Railway built a passenger station and three grain elevators (taken down in 1977). Villeneuve has also lost its school, but at the nearby airport training facility, young men and women can learn to fly and maintain gliders and aircraft. Apart from agriculture, there are gravel and sand extraction operations around Villeneuve. Today’s church of St. Peter is an elegant building with three slim spires, which dates back to 1933.

Today the hamlet has 178 inhabitants (2001). It is named after the founder and owner of L’Ouest Canadien, a French newspaper published in Edmonton.

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