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French Canadien Settlers

Before the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, most of the white people living in what is now Alberta were French. One of the first French communities in the Alberta area was at St. Albert, which is just north of Edmonton, in 1843.

With the success of the mission at St. Albert, Father Morin also brought a number of French Canadians to Morinville, north of St. Albert, and then to Legal and Riviere-qui-barre.

Neither the French Canadians nor the Natives and Métis were enthusiastic farmers and they were soon pushed out by other colonists who possessed more advanced agricultural skills. Father Lacombe gathered a number of those who had failed at the farming lifestyle and moved them to a new settlement at St. Paul des Métis. However, lack of transportation facilities isolated these communities, which, out of necessity, managed to become self-sufficient, their schools and churches being financed from Quebec. In these early French Canadian communities French remained the sole language in the schools until the new influx of European settlers forced the establishment of English and Protestant schools as well.

By 1911 St. Albert boasted a population of only 1,000 people - 761 of which were French, 151 British, and 87 of other nationalities. By 1916, there were close to 25,000 French Canadians in Alberta, many residing in Edmonton and the surrounding area.

Father Lacombe, 1913.

Father Lacombe, 1913.

Catholic mission at St. Albert, Alberta.ca. 1886-1894

Catholic mission at St. Albert, Alberta.ca. 1886-1894

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Francophone Settlement Part Two

Francophones Settlement Part One