Ponteix

The towers of Notre Dame d’Auvergne, Ponteix, are visible from miles away.
David McLennan

Town, pop 550, located SE of Swift Current off Hwy 13. After a 1907 scouting mission, the community was founded by Father Albert Royer, who came from the parish of Ponteix in the region of Auvergne, France. He established the French-speaking parish of Notre-Dame d’Auvergne, north of the present community, across the Notukeu Creek. In 1913–14, as the CPR was building its line toward Shaunavon along the south side of the Notukeu, the community shifted to the townsite on the rail line, retaining the name Ponteix in honour of Father Royer’s former parish. Ponteix developed as a bilingual community over the decades. Community attractions include the Notukeu Heritage Museum at the Centre Culturel Royer, which features displays of archaeological and palaeontological artifacts. The Henri Liboiron collection consists of locally found arrowheads and other stone tools dating back several thousands of years, and the museum provides information on the 70–75 million-year-old plesiosaur found in the area in 1993. The Notre Dame d’Auvergne Church, built in 1929, is the largest column-free church in the province’s southwest; it houses a 500-year-old oak sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ in her lap—a gift to Father Royer which came from France after reportedly surviving the French Revolution hidden in a haystack. Other Ponteix landmarks include the Convent of Notre Dame and the former Gabriel Hospital, both founded by the Sisters of Our Lady of Chambriac, who joined Father Royer in Ponteix in 1913. The hospital, completed in 1918, was largely financed by the Michelin family, whose tire-producing empire is headquartered in Auvergne, France; the contribution was made on the condition that the hospital be named Gabriel, after a family son who had been killed in World War I.

David McLennan