Legacy of French, volunteerism, and coffee

by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent

I sat down with Solange Bachand one afternoon and enjoyed a garden fresh tomato with fresh dinner buns and freshly pickled beets to ask her a few questions.

Bachand is a strong supporter of French language and community volunteerism. Bachand said she started volunteering because she wanted to help and tries to help whenever and wherever assistance is required.

“I enjoy life very much and am proud to be bilingual and a French Canadian,” Bachand said.
She joined the Federation of Franco-Albertan (FAFA) seniors in 2007 and for seven years did extensive volunteerism and travelling to the meetings while she was on the Executive. She said enjoys FAFA because she has always been a strong supporter of the French language. Her parents were also strong supporters of the French language, and her children, who went to school in Morinville, are bilingual. She was also volunteering at the Rendez-Vous Centre at that time and when she had conventions in Edmonton she had to have a replacement for Coffee Time.

Bachand has been making coffee for the seniors for more than eight years. “If I miss Coffee Time it has to be something very special,” Bachand said. “It is hard to have a replacement, so I do all I can to be there.” In 2012, the year the Rendez-Vous celebrated 40 years of service, the Board of Directors started a Silent Hero Award to highlight volunteers who quietly help out time and time again. The Silent Hero for October that year was Bachand for hosting the Tuesday Coffee Time and other volunteer work. She has also served on Rendez-Vous Committees for more than six years.

In 2005 Eddie and Solange were the recipients of the Heritage Award presented by the Rendez-Vous Centre where they were both active members. She is still an active member there to this day.

A member of the Association Canadienne-Francaise de l’Alberta (ACFA) for more than 30 years she received a Certificate for her time and devotion.

Bachand has been volunteering as long as she can remember. In Legal in the 1960s, she had joined the group Les Femmes Chretiennes (a group similar to the Catholic Women’s League.) When the family moved to Morinville, she transferred her membership and volunteered here.

Bachand is also the Vice President of the Morinville Historical & Cultural Society, where she has volunteered for more than 20 years. Bachand said Raymonde Riopel asked her to join. At the Morinville Community High School Annual Awards night held in 2012 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre (MCCC), Bachand presented the first Morinville Historical & Cultural Society Scholarship to recipient Colette Bachand.

On family life, Bachand said she has lived in Morinville most of her life. Born in April 1932 at the family home to Gerard Rousseau (1905-1994) and Marie-Laure Bazinet (1904-1988). She is the oldest of four children, with Fleurette 81, Laurier deceased and Leonard 78. At the completion of her schooling, Bachand married at 18 to Eddie Alfred Bachand of Legal on July 6, 1950.

“[The] First two years of marriage we had an opportunity to really get to know each other before having kids,” Bachand said. “At that time people married and did not live together beforehand like some do today.”

Eddie was the fifth of nine children of Arthur Bachand (1897-1984) and Elizabeth Caza (1902-1991). He passed away March 12, 2006. Three siblings alive today are Alma Casavant, Irene Vallee, and Paul.

Eddie always kept busy; he trucked for Starkey Coal Mine and also helped build his dad’s store and garage at Legal Corner. He also worked in the oil fields, Egg Lake Coal Mine, built roads around Camrose and did the Pontiac School bus run.

They lived at the Legal Corner until the late ’60s when they moved to Morinville where they purchased a mink ranch in partnership with Leo and Jeannine Mercier. The ranch was located approximately where the Provincial Building is today. They worked the mink ranch for eight years. Bachand said they had 3000 mink and sheds had to be built for them. Pelting time was in November, and they separated the minks, keeping the best looking ones for breeding.

Besides working, taking care of children and volunteering, Bachand and her husband had four children of their own: Denis, Joanne Ewasiuk, Edna Fortin, and Michel. Edna is well known in the area for Fortin Catering, where Bachand also assists whenever she can. Bachand also enjoys cooking and baking cakes.

Although Bachand has travelled across the County several times, she prefers venturing on day trips within the area.

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