Founded in Montreal in 1834 by Ludger Duvernay, the noted
patriot and editor of La Minerve, the Société Saint
Jean-Baptiste was created with the intention of evoking
nationalistic feelings in all French-Canadians, an idea clearly
outlined by the organization’s motto: "Our institutions, our
language and our rights."
An Alberta branch of the society was created in 1894. The
first president was Georges Roy; the first vice-president was J.
H. Gariépy; Wilfrid Gariépy was secretary; J. H. Picard was
treasurer; and Joseph Brunelle was the master of ceremonies.1
The directors of the branch were Stanislas La Rue, Antonio
Prince, G. Corriveau, Joseph Chénier, and F. Desgagné—in short,
the notables of the city. The group’s mandate was to regroup
French-Canadians and support their culture and heritage.
Subsequently, a parade and celebration took place every year on
24 June and was the occasion for a large gathering.
For a considerable length of time, the society played a
political role and encouraged the protection of French language
and educational rights. In 1909, the society suggested
regrouping all of the French language organizations of the
province, but nothing really came of it at the time.
In Alberta, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste’s role as a
political catalyst diminished, particularly during the 1920s and
during the rise of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) which
strongly divided rural and urban Franco-Albertans.