by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
Listening to Alma Casavant is a walk down history as she speaks of the Legal Corner and what was there before Wheelers, how she met Diefenbaker in Morinville, and that they purchased the Frontenac School, moved it and made it their home. The Casavants were caretakers for Thibault, Vanier School, Cunningham School and the RCMP building before they tore down the old Sturgeon County building.
At the young age of 95, Alma Casavant is still very busy having just completed two quilts and pillows with their names embroidered in a square for her two great-grandchildren – Dax Bentz and Caden Froment. Each quilt is ten squares by 12 squares wide, and each square is eight inches. Casavant has made around 100 or so quilts and crocheted blankets. She said she donated 36 of her blankets to the homeless.
Casavant said she started making quilts before she got married. At the time all the clothing was used: old pants, even curtains, whatever pieces could be used were made into a quilt. Her daughter, Louise Froment said some of her dresses are in some of the quilts.
“That is what they used to do back then. They were what you would call the first recyclers,” Froment said, adding rags would be mixed with twine on a rack and her Mother would sit there at night and cut long strips of cloth from anything available to make a rug.
One year they made one rug out of used nylons. They found a use for any fabric remnant they would get. Casavant has also made baptismal blankets and took the train out of her daughter Louise’s wedding dress to make them.
Casavant also paints bird houses and has 22 completed and waiting to be varnished. She’s given away many, has a few outside her window at Heritage Lodge, and has donated some to the Lodge as a fundraiser for the seniors.
Casavant has a long history in Legal and Morinville. She was the eldest Arthur Bachand and Elizabeth Caza’s five girls and two boys. She was born just outside the Town of Legal and lived at Legal Corner (currently Wheelers) in 1928 until she married Raoul Casavant in 1939.
In 1947 when Highway 2 was widened, Alma and Raoul had to rebuild the business a little further back.
They owned the B/A service station at the corner, and they built the garage in the spring of 1948. Her husband acquired the route to bus students and built his own bus the same year. He sold his truck and in 1949 purchased a bus and transported students on the Riopel, Tellier, and Robin Hood route for nine years.
To supplement his income, he worked at the Joseph Perras Garage in Morinville. He was a self-taught mechanic at Perras. He did everything: bought cars, welded and fixed them, even putty if needed, and sold them again to make a bit if money.
Casavant was a stay at home mom, but she did whatever she could. Her daughter calls her a jack of all trades. For some, Casavant did laundry, and cleaning, washing floors. “All for a dollar a day,” Casavant said. She also made dresses, did home perms, gardening, and other little things to help financially.
Froment said her mother is a seamstress, hairdresser, an excellent cook and still bakes to this day.
In 1956, the couple bought a house in Morinville and remained there until 1975. Then they moved to the original Frontenac School site and converted the school into their home.