Alberta's Francophones

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The year 2005 coincides with a most noteworthy anniversary - the Alberta centennial - which celebrates the creation of a province that in large part owes to the work of Francophones. However, the French presence in Western Canada far predates 1905 and indeed stretches back to the era of the European explorers - to a time when the earliest non-Aboriginal visitors to these far-off lands either originated in France or were in the employ of its king or Church. For these men, French was their first language of communication - be this in the form of narratives of discovery, reports to Church superiors, or the day-to-day transactions of French Canadian and Metis voyageurs and coureurs de bois. Indeed, it may be said that the first notes of a new and long-lasting plainsong were struck in French.

French is alive and well in today's Alberta, and a great many of the province's Francophones are deeply committed to perpetuating this rich heritage and vehicle of culture passed down to them from ancestors bearing such names as Lamoureux, Rousseau, Lemarchand, Doucet, Loiselle, Faucher, Dominique, Dallaire, Monette, Coutu, Maisonneuve, and L'Heureux, to name but a few.

By assembling this collection of photographs culled from various archival holdings throughout the province - many of them previously unpublished - the author has been animated by a desire to pay homage to the French-speaking men and women who have left their imprint on the history of Alberta. And through her research, she has strived to contribute to the necessary, ongoing restoration of the Franco-Albertan memory.

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