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Town, pop 1,187, located SW of Old Wives Lake at the junction of Hwys 43 and 58. Gravelbourg was founded by Father Louis-Joseph-Pierre Gravel (1868–1926), a missionary colonizer, and his five brothers and a sister who settled at the location in 1906. On behalf of both the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Gravel encouraged Francophones in eastern Canada and New England to come west. With the arrival of the railway in 1913 the community developed rapidly, attaining town status on November 1, 1916. Although settlers of various origins (including German Lutherans and Irish Catholics) would settle in the community over the years, Gravelbourg developed over the next decades as a bastion of both the French culture and the Roman Catholic Church in Saskatchewan. In 1918, the Convent of Jesus and Mary and the Collège Mathieu were built, followed in 1919 by the construction of the cathedral, which has a seating capacity of over 1,500. More recently, the Centre Culturel Maillard, constructed in 1985, was established to ensure the preservation of the community’s French language and culture; it houses a French language bookstore, as well as the offices of the Association Communautaire Fransaskoise de Gravelbourg and the Association Culturelle Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan. With over 100 businesses, Gravelbourg remains a service centre for the surrounding agricultural region, which produces staple crops such as Wheat, durum, and Barley, as well as pulse crops such as peas and lentils. Gravelbourg has a professional French Canadian dance ensemble, Danseurs de la Rivière de la Vieille , and in 2003 the CRTC approved the licencing of Gravelbourg’s first Francophone community radio station. Several of the community’s buildings have been designated heritage properties. The cathedral, the former convent school, the Bishop’s residence, the post office, the court house, and the Canadian Northern Railway station are notable community landmarks, and a completely restored 1946 theatre houses two of the oldest movie projectors in Saskatchewan.

David McLennan

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