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Missionaries

The story of French settlement in Alberta is also the story of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Since the arrival of the first Oblate missionaries in Canada in 1841, the ambitious goal of the Catholic clergy was to recreate the Roman Catholic Church in the new world. In their relentless mission to bring Christianity to the traders, Aboriginal and Métis people, French Catholic missionaries ensured that French culture endured in the West long after English came to dominate.

It was in 1842 that the first permanent missionary, Father Jean Baptiste Thibault, arrived in the region. He established a permanent mission at Fort Edmonton and formed the first Roman Catholic Mission at Lac Ste. Anne the following year. It was a charismatic young priest named Father Albert Lacombe however, who would firmly entrench the French missionary presence in Alberta. Thibault’s replacement at Lac Ste. Anne, Lacombe arrived in the Edmonton area in 1852. Recognizing the unique spiritual and cultural needs of the Métis people he established the St. Albert mission in 1861. From this locale, he hoped the Métis would be able to find a balance between their nomadic lifestyle and the demands of agricultural settlement. Until his death in 1916 Lacombe was recognized as a leading figure in the French Canadian community, in particular for his creative missionary work with the Métis, and the nomadic Cree and Blackfoot nations.

Father Albert Lacombe

Father Albert Lacombe

St. Albert, Alberta,1877

St. Albert, Alberta,1877