by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
One of Morinville’s older residences slated for demolition has received a passionate plea from one of Morinville’s most notable families requesting that Council preserves the structure as a historic site. Paul Riopel, representing the Perras family, made a presentation to Council at their regular Committee of the Whole meeting with hopes of saving the more than 100-year-old Perras Place. Most of Riopel’s speech shared the history and impact of the Perras pioneering family, focusing on Joseph H. Perras and his daughter, the recently departed Raymonde Riopel (nee Parras).
The structure, built in 1903, is currently owned by the Town and currently houses the Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Information Centre, though both are already being moved to the main floor of St. Germain Place (Town Hall).
Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer Andy Isbister confirmed that the site is slated for demolition potentially as early as next spring. The Town has not laid out a plan for what they will do with the land after demolition.
Riopel spoke clearly and with passion, appealing to Council to pay to preserve the building, located next to Town Hall along 100 Avenue. Riopel noted the importance of keeping this piece of history saying: “History is what provides an identity [to a community], giving a foundation from which to grow and prosper.”
“The news that Perras Place was possibly being slated for demolition, rather than being preserved as a municipal landmark, came as a total shock to this family,” Riopel said.
In recounting the life of Joseph H. Perras, Riopel went into detail about his “pioneering spirit” that Riopel felt defined his character, speaking to his many business ventures and political activities as defining for generations what it means to be a “Morinville Man.”
Paul Riopel also lauded Raymonde Riopel, affectionately known as “Rip” by many, who only recently passed away, as a “budding feminist” exuding a fiery and passionate spirit that he spoke to as an example for Morinvillians. Her role as a teacher for four-and-a-half decades, as well as her political activism and proud francophone roots, exemplified her character.
The legacy of these Morinville residents was good reason preserve this piece of history for Riopel, and he reminded Council that a similar landmark – Juno House – was recently preserved in St. Albert by their council.
“There is no problem too great for honourable men and honourable women to find a solution,” Riopel told Council.
Council did not have questions or comments for Riopel after his speech aside from a quick question from Councillor Stephen Dafoe on how many Riopel’s were in attendance that evening. Council quickly moved on to the next item on their agenda.