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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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L'Ouest Canadien (1898-1900)
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Established in 1898 by Frédéric Villeneuve (1867-1915), L’Ouest Canadien was the first French newspaper in Alberta. Published weekly in Edmonton, its main goal was to encourage French-Canadian settlement in Alberta; it was closely associated with the Société de colonisaton d’Edmonton.1 TThe editorial policy was to defend French-Canadian interests in the matters of politics and religion, as well as to recruit potential settlers. The newspaper, which consisted of only four pages, was mailed free of charge to potential settlers, an average of 200 a week were sent out during its two years of publication.

In his index of the newspaper, the archivist Éloi DeGrâce tells us more about Villeneuve. Born in a well-respected family in Montreal, Villeneuve’s father was mayor of the city and was named to the Senate.2 Villeneuve studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1891. He practiced in Montreal for a few years before coming to establish himself in Edmonton in 1897. Upon his arrival, he maintained an office in St. Albert. Very active locally, Villeneuve was president of the Société de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste and was elected to the Assembly of the Territorial legislature in Regina on 4 November 1898. He was also the assistant-commissioner for the 1901 census of Canada. Villeneuve left politics in 1901, and returned to Montreal where he was the curator of the municipal library.

When the parish of St. Pierre applied for a post office, it was named Villeneuve in his honour and the name was adopted for the town located northwest of Edmonton.

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