Girouxville, originally named Fowler, was established in 1915
as a siding named by the railroad. However, Fowler residents,
who were primarily (but not exclusively) French immigrants from
Quebec and the United States, lobbied to have the community
renamed "Girouxville" after the colonizing Oblate missionary
Alexander Mackenzie is credited with being the first European
explorer of the Peace River region, and Girouxville is found
approximately nine miles west of Donnelly and 45 miles south of
Peace River. Dunvegan, as well as Mackenzie’s Fort Forks, were
instrumental in the expansion into this, one of the West’s final
frontiers. In an effort to combat the decline of French language
and culture in the West, Oblates such as Father Falher and
Father Giroux recruited French settlers and directed them to
take homesteads in Alberta. Several of these families claimed
land in Girouxville.
Although nearby Grouard was bypassed by the railroad, it
remained an important centre for supplies and services for the
residents of Girouxville. Immigrants filed at the Grouard land
office for $10 homesteads in Girouxville. However, despite
amenities available in nearby Grouard, stores, businesses, and
grain elevators were essential to life in Girouxville by 1927.
After debates in 1928, Girouxville was moved two miles west
to where it is located today. The old townsite was named "Dréau"
in honour of Father Jean Dréau, a French Oblate missionary who
had served the district in its earlier years. "New" Girouxville
had its first church in 1928, and the first resident priest was
Father Joseph Aldric Normandeau, also known as "the priest from
everywhere." Girouxville was incorporated as a village in 1951.
Girouxville remains a rich French-Canadian farming community
of about 350 people. Each August, a religious pilgrimage is held
in the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes in the centre of town,
where a large number of artefacts including statues, paintings,
and reliquaries are put on display. Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish
holds mostly French services every weekend, and the Musée
Girouxville Museum features over 6,000 artefacts recalling early
life in the region.
St. André, Lucie. Histoire de Girouxville History.
Girouxville Historical Society/ la Société Historique de
Girouxville. Girouxville, Alberta. 1977.