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Father Hugonard.
Brian Mlazgar

Village, pop 207, located in the Qu’Appelle Valley on the NE shore of Mission lake, 6 km E of Fort Qu’Appelle on Hwy 56. In 1864, Bishop Alexandre Taché of St. Boniface passed through the Qu’Appelle Valley on his way home from Ile-à-la-Crosse. Seeing the opportunity for a Catholic presence, he returned to the area in 1865, and selected the site of present-day Lebret for a Catholic mission. In 1866 Abbé Ritchot arrived to open the mission, one of the earlier Roman Catholic missions established in what would become the province of Saskatchewan. It became the main centre of Catholicism for the Métis and First Nations people in the region and a base for Oblate priests who travelled the southern plains to points such as Wood Mountain and the Cypress Hills. In 1884, a residential school financed by the federal government was started, with Father Hugonard as the principal. In 1886, the parish priest, Father Louis Lebret, became the first postmaster of the community and, although he only held the position for a little more than six months, the office was named Lebret and the name became that of the community. Also in 1886, a rectory was built, which stands to this day. In 1899, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions arrived and began work in the community. In 1906, they founded Saint Gabriel’s Convent.

David McLennan

The Village of Lebret was incorporated on October 14, 1912. In 1925 the impressive fieldstone Sacred Heart Church was built, and in 1929 the landmark stations of the cross and the small chapel shrine on the hill overlooking Lebret were erected. Until the latter half of the 20th century Lebret was an important religious and educational centre. In addition to the residential school and the convent, there was a public school, and the Oblates established a theological training centre, Sacred Heart Scholasticate, on the south side of Mission Lake. The public school closed to Fort Qu’Appelle in 1980, the scholasticate in the 1960s, and the convent in the 1970s. The residential school was signed over to a First Nations school board in October 1973, at a ceremony presided over by the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien. The school, which eventually became known as White Calf Collegiate, closed in 1998. Today, Lebret remains a picturesque, yet very quiet, community.

David McLennan

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