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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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Girouxville

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Girouxville HotelGirouxville, originally named Fowler, was established in 1915 as a siding named by the railroad. However, Fowler residents, who were primarily (but not exclusively) French immigrants from Quebec and the United States, lobbied to have the community renamed "Girouxville" after the colonizing Oblate missionary Henri Giroux.

Alexander Mackenzie is credited with being the first European explorer of the Peace River region, and Girouxville is found approximately nine miles west of Donnelly and 45 miles south of Peace River. Dunvegan, as well as Mackenzie’s Fort Forks, were instrumental in the expansion into this, one of the West’s final frontiers. In an effort to combat the decline of French language and culture in the West, Oblates such as Father Falher and Father Giroux recruited French settlers and directed them to take homesteads in Alberta. Several of these families claimed land in Girouxville.

A simple paradeAlthough nearby Grouard was bypassed by the railroad, it remained an important centre for supplies and services for the residents of Girouxville. Immigrants filed at the Grouard land office for $10 homesteads in Girouxville. However, despite amenities available in nearby Grouard, stores, businesses, and grain elevators were essential to life in Girouxville by 1927.

After debates in 1928, Girouxville was moved two miles west to where it is located today. The old townsite was named "Dréau" in honour of Father Jean Dréau, a French Oblate missionary who had served the district in its earlier years. "New" Girouxville had its first church in 1928, and the first resident priest was Father Joseph Aldric Normandeau, also known as "the priest from everywhere." Girouxville was incorporated as a village in 1951.

Girouxville remains a rich French-Canadian farming community of about 350 people. Each August, a religious pilgrimage is held in the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes in the centre of town, where a large number of artefacts including statues, paintings, and reliquaries are put on display. Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish holds mostly French services every weekend, and the Musée Girouxville Museum features over 6,000 artefacts recalling early life in the region.

Source(s):

St. André, Lucie. Histoire de Girouxville History. Girouxville Historical Society/ la Société Historique de Girouxville. Girouxville, Alberta. 1977.
 

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