Central Alberta was settled by a considerable number of French-speaking people, many of whom came from France.
In 1906, about 30 French families moved to Sylvan Lake with Dr. Tanche of Lille to establish a true socialist society.1 They all lived together in a large barn which was also used for their poultry and livestock. The colony was a failure and disbanded two years later; about half of the members went back to France while the rest took homesteads elsewhere in the province.
The Edmonton Bulletin notes approximately 50 Breton settlers heading for Red Deer in 1904.2 The sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron established a convent and hospital at Trochu, where a group of former French officers created the town after leaving France in refusal to follow orders concerning the eviction of religious communities with the separation of the Church and the State.3 During those years a fairly homogenous French community was found in the area between Drumheller and Stettler, where 12 priests from Tinchebray in Normandy settled and established parishes and missions. By 1910, they had built a church, convent, school, and hospital in Stettler, but left the area suddenly during the 1920s following difficulties with the bishop of the diocese of Edmonton, H. J. O’Leary.
Many of the French citizens of the region left in 1914 to fight in the First World War.
(1) Donald Smith, « French-speaking Albertans », Peoples of Alberta, ed, ed. Donald and Tamara Palmer, Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985,94.
(2) Éloi DeGrâce, Glanures du Edmonton Bulletin, Vol I : 1880-1907, auto publication, 2004.
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