By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – With the snip of a ribbon last Saturday afternoon 138 years of Alberta history was preserved for future generations to learn from. Local residents gathered together with representatives from Sturgeon County and members of the River Valley Alliance to open a $35,000 interpretive display on the grounds of the 134-year-old Catholic Church in Lamoureux, located on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River, opposite Fort Saskatchewan.
Sturgeon County Manager of Community Services Terry Cashin said the County is a partner in the River Valley Alliance, a seven-municipality organization committed to preserving the River Valley area. Cashin said one of the things the organization wanted to do was to have each municipality get involved in a specific project, preferably one addressing the River Valley’s history.
Cashin said the County had originally considered moving an old house donated by Frank Houle onto the church property. However, a number of concerns led the committee involved to seek an alternative project. That search led to the creation of an interpretive display and garden outlining the history of early French settlers Francois and Joseph Lamoureux, who came to the area in the fall of 1872, and how they built the community that today bears their name.
Although the day was a celebratory one for many of the people who gathered for the official opening, it was particularly special for Gus Lamoureux, the 87-year-old grandson of one of the community’s founders.
“I’ve been here all my life,” Lamoureux said. “My father was born here in 1879. Grandpa come here in 1872. I guess it’s an honour.”
But Lamoureux was not the only person in attendance with roots to the community or the location chosen for the interpretive display.
“It’s wonderful to commemorate the church,” said attendee Lorraine Fisk, noting she made her first communion in the church. “I have a lot of good memories of this place.”
Although the project was completed near the end of Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney’s first term, Rigney was quick to point out during the ceremony that the project would not have been possible without the efforts of his predecessor Helmut Hinteregger.
Hinteregger, who was on hand to witness the completion of something he had started several years ago, was pleased to see a dream become a reality.
“Actually, I’m elated,” Hinteregger said. “Working with the River Valley Alliance for seven years, I kept on plugging Lamoureux. I said you people have to realize the history; you have to realize what’s out there – the potential that’s there, and we have to respect that history.”
Hinteregger said it soon became apparent that the historical trail ends at Lamoureux and Fort Saskatchewan.
“We felt that it deserved the recognition,” Hinteregger said. “This is just the start, in my opinion.”
Hinteregger will certainly get his wish for more. Cashin said plans are already underway to put interpretive cairns at seven different historical locations in the Lamoureux area.
The costs of the interpretive display were split equally between Sturgeon County and the River Valley Alliance.