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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund


Francophone Edukit

Angel Spacer

Francophone Communities and
their History




Edmonton’s French Quarters

1960 and 1980

The Franco-Albertan community
between 1982
and the year 2000


Farm hands and First Nations people stacking hayThe Second World War put an end to the economic crisis which had dominated most industrialized countries of the Western World. In Alberta, the large urban centres gained importance while the farmers who could still afford to poured their money back into industrializing their farms. Those who had not been able to find buyers for their farms for nearly 30 years, were finally able to do so. As a result, farms got larger, and those who left the rural areas were quickly able to find work in the booming cities.

The young people who were entering the job market had many opportunities in Alberta. As everywhere else, during the war, women found employment in factories and learned non-traditional skills in the rapidly expanding workforce. With the discovery of crude oil in Leduc in 1949, it seemed there was work and money for everyone. Albertan companies continued to expand and went abroad with their expertise. Franco-Albertans took part in these ventures and were particularly sought out for work in the Maghreb countries such as Algeria.

Settlers breaking campThe Franco-Albertan communities were not spared from the great world events. During the Cold War, the Space Race brought on the improvement of the school system across Canada. For rural communities, this meant centralization and had a devastating effect. Agricultural centralization also affected small communities. The centres which were better situated, near railways or highways continued to expand as their merchants could offer more competitive prices, while those of small towns could not. What were formerly general stores become local convenience stores. Some little towns began to disappear; sometimes the clean-up was done by a fire which destroyed streetscapes in mere hours. Rail transport, once so sought after, was replaced by large trucks and many spur lines were taken up across the Prairies. In the meantime, agriculture had become a mega-business, and the well-situated towns became prosperous little cities.

The migrants from the countryside joined the ranks of the large centres such as Edmonton and Calgary and, since the English language was no longer an obstacle for the descendants of the settlers at the beginning of the 20th century, the creation of ghettos is avoided. For the oldest French cultural organization in the province, l’Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta, the greatest challenge is to encourage people to continue using the French language.

The ranks of the Franco-Albertans came to expand again along with the renewed prosperity in the province based on the rising oil prices. If some of these migrants left, many stayed and settled permanently across the province working at all sorts of trades and professions.

The Official Languages Act also affected Franco-Albertans, and attracted many civil servants and school teachers who settled in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medecine Hat, Red Deer, Jasper, Banff, Canmore, St. Albert, St. Paul, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and many other communities across the province. As well, since the 1960s, cuts in health care in other provinces drew health care professionals to Alberta. Each of these factors has enriched Alberta’s cultural diversity following the Second World War.


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