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French Canadien Settlers

French Canadien Settlement: Until the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, most of the white settlers on the Canadian Plains were of French origin. One of the first Catholic mission centres had been established at St. Albert as early as 1843. The first buildings, a church and a priest's residence, were erected in 1861. In 1863, the Youville Convent was built, where the Sisters of Charity cared for orphan Indians and so-called "halfbreeds", as well as for the victims ofsmallpox, scarlet fever, and typhoid epidemics. This religious centre was the base for Catholic missions in the north for more than 20 years. When the railway was finally completed, the church helped to ease the Native populations and local
Métis into a more agricultural lifestyle.

With the success of the mission at St. Albert, Father Morin also brought a number of French Canadians to Morinville, north of St. Albert, and then to Legal and Riviere-qui-barre.

Neither the French Canadians nor the Natives and Métis were enthusiastic farmers and they were soon pushed out by other colonists who possessed more advanced agricultural skills. Father Lacombe gathered a number of those who had failed at the farming lifestyle and moved them to a new settlement at St. Paul des Métis. However, lack of transportation facilities isolated these communities, which, out of necessity, managed to become self-sufficient, their schools and churches being financed from Quebec. In these early French Canadian communities French remained the sole language in the schools until the new influx of European settlers forced the establishment of English and Protestant schools as well.

By 1911 St. Albert boasted a population of only 1,000 people - 761 of which were French, 151 British, and 87 of other nationalities. By 1916, there were close to 25,000 French Canadians in Alberta, many residing in Edmonton and the surrounding area.

Father Lacombe, 1913.

Father Lacombe, 1913.

Catholic mission at St. Albert, Alberta.ca. 1886-1894

Catholic mission at St. Albert, Alberta.ca. 1886-1894

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Francophone Settlement Part Two


Francophones Settlement Part One