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The naming of St. Albert

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Highway 2 North follows very closely the route of the historic Athabasca Landing Trail.

As historian Merrily Aubrey explains, the trail started at St. Albert.

Albert was established as a Catholic Mission in 1861 by Bishop Taché, and named in honour of the patron saint of his travelling companion, the famed Albert Lacombe.

Now a Hudson's Bay Company post operated there from 1866 to 1875, and by 1903 it was the centre of a thriving agricultural community.

In the early days, the trail was used by the Hudson's Bay Company to transport goods from Fort Edmonton to its trading post at Athabasca Landing, where they were shipped down the Athabasca River.

From the starting point at St. Albert, the trail went north, first to the present day site of Morinville.

Morinville came into being in 1891, so it was established 30 years after St. Albert, and was one of a number of communities established by Abbe Jean Baptiste Morin, to promote the agricultural settlement for French Canadian Roman Catholics. And this was done fairly often, you'd have front- running, I guess, priests, who'd come out and survey the area and then say, hey, this is a good place for settlement, and people would come.

From Morinville, the trail continued for another six miles, where it then wound around Mannowan and Little Mannowan Lakes.

Now, Mannowan is the Cree word for "egg," and is descriptive of the food source that's available there, not necessarily the shape of the features, as some have suggested.

So, with the name Mannowan, it explains how the nearby Egg Lake Post Office and Egg Lake Coal Company got their names.

And from here you would travel about in a similar fashion, about 112 kilometres across hill and vale, and swamp and prairie, before you finally reached Athabasca Landing.

Fur traders gave way to settlers moving north along the trail to Athabasca Landing. In 1912, Canadian Northern built a railway along the route, and this breathes new life into new communities of Picardville, Clyde, Tawatinaw, Rochester, Perryvale and Colinton, stopping points that sprang-up on the way to Athabasca Landing.

On the Heritage Trail, I'm Cheryl Croucher.


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