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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
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Le Progrès (1909-1915)
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It was during his provincial electoral campaign in 1909 that liberal candidate Wilfrid Gariépy founded the French language newspaper Le Progrès in Morinville to promote his campaign.1 Although he did not win that year, Gariépy had been elected to city council since 1906, where he served until 1910. He also served on the school council from 1904 to 1912. He was elected for the 1913 election, where he served on the cabinet as the Minister of Municipal Affairs for the Liberal government until 1918, and then as Provincial Secretary until 1921, after which he returned to Eastern Canada, where he sought to enter federal politics as a member of parliament for Trois-Rivières. He was elected in 1935 and 1945.

As for Le Progrès, Gariépy sold it in 1909 to T. L.Girard and J. Adolphe Nantel. The latter became sole proprietor a few months later, but sold it to Omer St. Germain in October of the same year. The newspaper was bought back by Gariépy in 1912.

The newspaper’s basic mandate was to promote settlement for French-speaking settlers in Alberta and to uphold the rights of the francophone population. It also competed against the Courrier de l’Ouest which had been established in 1905 and L’Ouest canadien (the second of the same name). In contrast to its rivals, the paper supported the Liberal party.

As it became evident that the initial goal of the paper to serve the Morinville and Saint-Albert regions could limit itself to just those two communities, in 1914, the name was changed to Le Progrès Albertain. However the newspaper came to a sudden and dramatic end when on 19 August, its editor published damning evidence showing that Gariépy had done more damage to the recognition of the French language than the Orangists ever had. Gariépy who was then in San Francisco as Minister of Municipal Affairs never published another issue. Other factors may have influenced the decision to shut down the paper, which consisted of only four pages, particularly the competition for a small market during the wartime years.

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