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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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Saint Paul
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Co-operative storeIn 1865, Oblate Albert Lacombe founded the St.-Paul-des-Cris mission on the North Saskatchewan River. Numerous difficulties, particularly the smallpox epidemic, forced the closure of the mission in 1874, but Lacombe continued to pursue his goal of creating a community where he could teach Aboriginals how to farm while educating their children. To this end, Lacombe approached the Federal Cabinet and was granted a 21-year lease on four townships under the direction of the syndicate of the Episcopal corporations of St. Albert, St. Boniface, and Prince Albert, and two laymen—the Honourable Judge Ouimet and the Honourable Senator R. Dandurand.

In 1896, Father Adéodat Thérien was appointed to lay the foundation of St.-Paul-des-Métis (St. Paul), named in recognition of the previous mission. The Oblates wanted St. Paul to become a very important site populated almost exclusively by Métis people, but the isolation was a great hindrance to its growth. In 1905, the flow of settlers into the West was too great, and by 1909, the mission was opened to settlers of any ethnicity.

The Lavoir HotelDespite continued difficulties such as fire, crop-destroying hail storms, and the outbreak of influenza, St.-Paul-des-Métis continued to grow and flourish. Notable achievements include the attainment of village status in 1912; the arrival of the railway in 1920; the introduction of electricity in 1921; and natural gas usage in 1949. While the village has been referred to as simply St. Paul since 1919, the name wasn’t officially changed until 1936.

Today St. Paul is a town of 5,000 boasting strong agriculture, oil, and gas industries. Cultural connections to its past are evident through museums such as the St. Paul People’s Museum and Musée Historique de St. Paul Historical Museum, and multilingual cultural education offered at the all-French École du Sommet and the Blue Quills First Nations College. The region's cultural roots are also apparent in the existence of the St. Paul branch of the Association Canadienne-Francaise de l’Alberta (ACFA) which was founded in 1928 and currently has a membership of 500.

Related Link:
http://collections.ic.gc.ca/stvincent-stpaul/eng/index.htm

Source:

  • Dion, Joseph et al. Du Passé au Present and Past: St. Paul – St. Edouard Alberta 1896 – 1990. Société du Livre Historique de St.-Paul Historical Book Society. Friesen Printers. 1990.
  • Legal, Émile J. Short Sketches of the History of the Catholic Churches and Missions in Central Alberta. Winnipeg: West Canada Publishing Co. Ltd., 1914.
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