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Grouard

Grouard: Grouard is a hamlet at the west end of Lesser Slave Lake. It was originally called Stony Point, after the Cree word with that meaning. The settlement has a long and important history in the north. It has a low-lying shoreline, rich fish and waterfowl resources, as well as good timber and hunting close by.

By the early 1800s, this district had been drawn into the fur trade. By 1820, there was an established M├ętis population at the west end of the lake. The economic importance of that end of the lake was confirmed in the 1880s, when the Hudson's Bay Company moved its district headquarters from Dunvegan to the Lesser Slave Lake settlement, where the Oblates had set up a mission in 1872. Soon, Anglican missionaries and independent fur traders settled in the community. By 1900, the population had grown to 300. In 1911, the town grew dramatically as the coming of the railway spurred development. By 1912 its population had reached about 500, and promoters were calling it the "Edmonton of the North". It had a couple of banks, and a number of stores. It had telegraph service, three churches, a newspaper, and even a town band.

By 1914, 1,200 people lived in Grouard. But the boom turned to bust when the railway bypassed the town. The town council was outraged and protested, charging the railway was deliberately trying to destroy Grouard. The railway, which was the Edmonton, Dunvegan, and British Columbia line, responded that it had no such motives, and it had avoided Grouard because the area was prone to flooding and that engineering difficulties of building into the town made it too costly.

By 1915 Grouard had been completely by passed. And without railway connections, the town lost its economic function. After that Grouard's population had dropped by two-thirds. The buildings were torn down or moved to other towns that grew up along the rail line. Grouard fell into such decline it ceased to exist as an incorporated town.

North West Mounted Police Barracks at Grouard.

North West Mounted Police Barracks at Grouard.

View of St. Roberts Mission, Grouard Alberta.

View of St. Roberts Mission, Grouard Alberta.