My name is Edmond. I’m 42 years old. I was born in Québec but now I live in Beaumont, Alberta. Have you heard of it? It’s a few kilometres south of Edmonton. It’s a small francophone colony that’s barely 10 years old in 1905.

How can anyone live on such a large territory? Well, you can’t settle just anywhere in the Prairies. The territory has been divided like a grid. First it’s divided into large squares, called townships; these townships are different from those in Québec, which are more rectangular. Then, each township is divided into 36 sections and each section is further divided into four parts of 160 acres. The land a colonist receives is equivalent to this smallest part; this is called a homestead.

In general, colonists settle on homesteads in groups, often according to their origin or language, either around a church or the general store for example. In Beaumont, the St. Vital church is the heart of our little community. There are several French-Canadian families living there. We recently got a new priest. He’s energetic and seems very determined to bring other families to the region. Once you’re settled here, you start to forget these vast plains you saw during the trip.

What brought us here? The fertile land. But don’t be fooled; life isn’t always easy. The culture here is different from Québec because of the land and the climate. When we first arrived here I had to build a cabin for my family. Now that my land is starting to become very productive and I can think about selling my surplus at the market, I’ll be able to build a larger and stronger house.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

Quickly check your knowledge: