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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Heritage Trails
ConferdationFrom 1840 until 1867, Ontario (Canada West) and Quebec (Canada East) were joined together as one colony under the union of the Canadas. Although Francophones in the colony outnumbered the English speakers, the colonial office in London gave equal representation to both groups in the Legislative Assembly and made English the official language of all parliamentary documents. As a result, the imbalanced power structure led to the eventual political deadlock of the Assembly. Although the concept had been discussed for some time, the continued deadlock and feared American aggression allowed for a movement toward federation of Britain's North American colonies. In 1867 the Canadas joined with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Confederation.
Portrait of Bishop Vital Grandin
In 1869 when the Dominion purchased and began settling the northwest, Francophones, including the Métis, were second only to the First Nations in terms of population in the region. Given this scenario it was highly plausible that the West could have become a Francophone stronghold in Canada.

Verreau brothers,pioneers of Bon AccordHowever, by the 1880s Francophones in the West were already greatly outnumbered by English-speakers. Rather than emigrate to the far-off Canadian West where the land had not yet been broken and there were few amenities and no obvious industry, most departing Francophones went to New England where work was readily available and they were close to home. In Alberta, in addition to recruiting a small number of immigrants from Quebec, the French Roman Catholic clergy was successful in recruiting several thousand Francophones from the United States, Belgium and France. However, the massive influx of Anglophone settlers, combined with events such as the failure of the Riel Rebellion and the elimination of official French language rights in the Northwest Territories, paved the way for a predominantly English-speaking Alberta.

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