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St. Vincent, Settlement

Long before St. Vincent would be called home by a small community of Franco-Albertans, the Canadian Aspenland region was the domain of theCree and the Métis. Expansion in the lucrative fur trade in Canada and rumours of the area’s productive farmland, however, began to lure increasing numbers of Europeans to the West. However the area was first visited between 1766 – 1767 by the Hudson Bay Company man William Pink, who explored the Beaver River to its source. Quantity of beaver and herds of buffalo in the area attracted many more fur traders after Pink. The area which lies approximately 210 kilometres to the north east of Edmonton was surveyed in 1884 by A.F. Cotton. Originally called Dog Rump (or worse) in Cree, he renamed the lake “Vincent” after his son. The missionaries promptly renamed it Saint-Vincent Lake.

Not far behind the fur traders were the missionaries. By the 1850s, Oblate priests had begun their missionary efforts and were travelling through the area on their way to Lac la Biche Mission. Some fifty years later Father Albert Lacombe helped establish the nearby colony of St.-Paul-des-Métis. By 1905, the St. Paul colony was deemed a failure, and the territory was opened to settlers by an act of parliament in 1909. French-Canadians managed to settle in a bloc on the homesteads there. Recruited by the Oblates, French-speaking immigrants began to arrive in St. Vincent around 1906, looking to cultivate the great open spaces of Canada’s western frontier. On July 3rd of that same year, Bishop Emile Legal, O.M.I. renamed the growing colony “Lac Saint Vincent”. Six-years later on March 13th, 1912 the community’s life as a Roman Catholic parish officially began, and the colony was titled Saint-Vincent-de- Denisville.

Settlers

Settlers