The name Hobbema came from the Dutch artist, Meindert Hobbema, whose paintings were admired by Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Van Horne chose the name when the Calgary-Edmonton line was laid. There is a folklore legend that the site of Hobbema was chosen as a result of a dream by a band chief named Ermineskin. He dreamt that a priest was pointing a crucifix in the direction of Hobbema. Hobbema was a Cree Aboriginal reserve and was established in 1876 under the terms of Treaty 6. The Hobbema region became home to four reserves: Ermineskin, Bull, Samson and Montana. These reservations were then taken over by Christian missionaries under the authority of the federal government. Residential schools (boarding schools) were established to help ease the transition for the Aboriginal peoples into a more European way of life.
The school at Hobbema experienced steady growth. Father Dauphin, who possessed a strong knowledge of the Cree language, brought his love for the Catholic Church to most people living on the Ermineskin Reserve. As a result, Hobbema provided pleasant scenery for people travelling over the Edmonton-Calgary railway. As soon as Father Dauphin achieved his goal, he left Hobbema in January, 1914. Father Moulin took his place and dedicated his entire missionary life to the Aboriginals of Hobbema. For 24 years of his life he was Director and Principal of the mission and of the school.
The infrastructure and civil society at Hobbema developed gradually. The railroad allowed for many European settlers to arrive into the area. Agriculture was pursued and telephone communication was established between houses and businesses. In 1919, waterworks and sewers, a central heating system and electricity were installed at the mission. These developments made the institution more attractive.
Seven principals followed in the 12 years after Father Moulin left the school. Hobbema published The Moccasin News, a publication consisting of information for former students and parents interested in what their children and kin were doing in and around the institution. The number of children attending the school at that time varied between 160 and 170. On November 1, 1950 in St. Peter's Piazza in Rome, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. The Director of the school, Father Latour, the missionaries and the Aboriginals in Hobbema consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On May 2-3, 1951, Hobbema hosted the Statue of Our Lady of the Cape.