Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two Perspectives

St. Albert Parish with Father Lacombe statue
A few weeks ago, maybe more, back when November still had sunny skies and reasonable temperatures, I visited Mission Hill and the St. Albert Parish Cemetery, just north of Edmonton. St. Albert was founded in 1861 by Father Lacombe, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.) and a well-known figure in Alberta history. Surprisingly enough, there’s a connection between this suburban Parish and the 1885 North West Resistance.

The Resistance, or Rebellion, consisted of a series of events involving communities all across the prairies. Most of these locations are now designated Historical Sites; they've received the appropriate signage and are maintained for visitors. It’s easy to forget, though, as time passes that the historical personalities we talk about today were once real people.  The North West Territories were their home and, although they figured into the larger story of The West, they also lived to create stories of their own.

Fort Battleford National Historic Site - Enactment
Fort Battleford National Historic Site - Jail in Foreground

The photos in this post were taken over the last few years and are from a number of the event sites in west central Saskatchewan and Alberta. The onsite interpretive plaques always place the location within its historical context; the signage always connects the events that happened there to the Resistance. It’s very clear that these communities, and the people within them, played an active part in the life of the NWT. 

Battle of Poundmaker Hill National Historic Site - Grave
Frog Lake National Historic Site - Graves, NWMP in Foreground

Two Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Pѐre Léon Fafard and Pѐre Felix Marchand, died during the 1885 Frog Lake Massacre in northeastern Alberta. Originally, these two priests were buried in Frog Lake but their remains have since been transferred to the Oblate cemetery on Mission Hill in the city of St. Albert, 200 kilometres away. In many cases, history records them, and all the others, simply as casualties of the 1885 North West Resistance but, to their families and to their community, they’re also remembered as men whose stories ended all too soon.

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - Cemetery