Armand Trochu, nicknamed "colonel" by his peers, brought a group of disgruntled
aristocratic French army officers and some gentlefolk to
southeast central Alberta in 1905. Trochu arrived in the area in
1902, but didn’t have enough capital to expand his businesses,
so he went back to France to look for investors. He found some,
thanks to the law of 1905, which enshrined the separation of
church and state. It meant that the French state was no longer
subsidizing Roman Catholic schools.
Officers and gentry set up the St. Ann Ranch Trading Company,
which became known as Trochu Valley. That name was shortened to
Trochu in 1911. A Roman Catholic church was built in 1907; the
telephone came in 1908. The next year, the order of the Sisters
of Charity of Our Lady of Evron arrived. The nuns built a
convent and established a hospital, and, presumably, assumed the
teaching responsibilities in the settlement.
A few years later, when the First World War broke out, most
of the gallant officers went to fight for their original
homeland. Only one family of the three that returned stayed in
Trochu. As a result, the French influence in Trochu didn’t have
the chance to endure.
In 2001, out of nearly 1,000 inhabitants, only 15 were
bilingual, and none spoke French exclusively. However, upon
closer inspection, one can spot traces of French influence in
the design of some of the older houses as well as a few French
Trochu lies in good Alberta farming country and is still
surrounded by thriving agriculture. Other profitable industries
have sprung up—oil, gas, gravel pits, and meat processing.