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Maison Culturelle de Bellgarde.
David McLennan
Organized hamlet, pop 40 in 2001, is located in the southeast corner of the province, approximately 10 km from the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, southeast of Redvers on Gainsborough Creek. In the late 1880s, a young Roman Catholic priest from France, Mgr. Jean-Isidore Gaire, founded a mission in Grande Clairière, in south-western Manitoba, and in 1891 he travelled west into the North-West Territories, to an area then known as the “Fourth Coulee,” the site of present-day Bellegarde. In 1892, Gaire led families from Belgian and France to the area, establishing the parish of St. Maurice. In a few years the community would come to be known as Bellegarde. (Mgr. Gaire was also responsible for founding a number of other French-speaking communities in what is today the province’s southeast.) Bellegarde’s first homesteaders would later be joined by other French settlers from Quebec. At the turn of the century, as the CPR was laying track westward five km to the north, there were more than 100 people established in the settlement, with the Catholic Church the foundation of the community. The first church and rectory were built around 1899, and in 1905-06 the first convent was built. By the 1960s, however, the small community began to decline. The once competitive Hockey team folded in the early 1970s due to a lack of players, and by 1982 Bellegarde residents found themselves without a store. Today, the church, La Maison Culturelle de Bellegarde, and the school remain, and are the backbones of the community. L’École de Bellegarde, with approximately 70 students, provides K-12 Education, and is one of just 12 schools in Saskatchewan’s only Francophone school division. Bellegarde is situated in the RM of Storthoaks No. 31.

David McLennan

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