The town of Gravelbourg was founded in 1906 by French settlers led by Father Louis-Joseph Pierre Gravel.
Recently, there has been much negative press regarding the Catholic Church and native residential schools in Canada. This news has somewhat, and I am sure inadvertently, been misleading for many.
There were 139 native residential schools in Canada where native children were placed against their will and against the will of their parents. Of these schools, 44 were operated by the Catholic Church. There was widespread abuse throughout the entire 138 school system – verbal, mental, emotional, physical and sexual. Many children died from disease and other unknown (and frequently nefarious) causes.
I only mention this because, this horrendous part of our Canadian history, has no connection to Gravelbourg or the other French Catholic settlements in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan. There were no such schools in that area and no means by which people in that area (or their particular Catholic clergy) would have been privy to any knowledge of these schools until relatively recent history.
The basic truth is that the Catholic church was instrumental in founding several communities across Canada. They built and maintained hospitals, schools, and churches and provided the opportunity for settlers to build ‘communities‘ by hosting religious services and social events. The church provided safety and refuge to French settlers, especially in this area, as they were often targeted for attack by local member of the Ku Klux Klan. These French settlers were typically honest, industrious, caring people who took care of their own and supported others – all others – in their communities. Which is, to this day, typical of their descendants.
The Town of Gravelbourg has a rich and magical history, of which the Catholic Church played a major part. I hope you enjoyed this short tour of the buildings that continue to stand at the heart of this unique community. Did you notice how well the grounds of all these buildings are kept up? It is the same throughout Gravelbourg – their parks, their streets, their graveyard. Everything is so well maintained and I don’t think we saw a piece of litter anywhere. It is an amazingly neat and tidy community.👍
I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful day. See you tomorrow 💕