Batoche National Historic Site of Canada
St. Antoine de Padoue Church© Parks Canada
On July 25th, 2002, the Saint Antoine-de-Padoue Church was officially re-opened. Erected by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and built by Ludger Gareau in 1884, the Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Church is an example of classic Red River frame construction. This technique consists of logs laid horizontally, pièce sur pièce, and slotted into grooved vertical timbers at each end. The Church represents the early activities and influence of the Oblate order in the Northwest and the clash of Métis and the Canadian government which resulted in the armed conflict of 1885. The buildings are directly associated with people such as Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and Major/General Frederick Middleton who played significant roles in the Battle of Batoche. Now part of Batoche National Historic Site of Canada, the Church is valued for its strong historical associations and its architectural significance.
Since the 1920's, the Church has suffered structural problems and environmental threats. It was closed for the past two years, in order to complete major stabilization work to address the various problems. This was necessary to ensure the long-term survival of the historic structure and was done in such a fashion as to preserve the heritage character of the Church. The restoration and re-opening of this important structure ensures its place in Canadian History as an important feature of the Batoche National Historic Site of Canada.
St. Antoine de Padoue church - ready to be moved©Parks Canada / 22/01/02
Inside the St. Antoine de Padoue church during restoration© Parks Canada / 22/01/02
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA COMMEMORATES THE NATIONAL HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE OF MADEMOISELLE ONÉSIME DORVAL
Old photo of Georgine d'Amours standing beside Mlle Dorval who is sitting down© Parks Canada / St. Vital Parish 1877-1977, Battleford, Saskatchewan (1977), p. 26.
A plaque celebrating the national historic importance of Mademoiselle Onésime Dorval was unveiled in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan on October 29, 2002.
Mlle. Onésime Dorval is being commemorated as a person of national historic significance because her service to the missions of the northwest, and to the Métis and Francophone communities of the prairies in which she lived, laid the ground work for bilingual French and English education in Saskatchewan.
Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Canadian Heritage about the national historic significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. The placement of a commemorative plaque represents an official recognition of the historic value. It is one means of educating the public about the richness of our cultural heritage which must be preserved for future generations.
Born and raised in Québec, Mlle. Dorval completed her teacher's training and obtained a first class teaching certificate. She wished to dedicate her life to the Church, but was not accepted into the order of the Sisters of Good Shepherd in New York (where she learned English) due to her frail health. Her intelligence and altruism spurred her on, however, to pursue a life of mission work. Bishop Grandin of St. Albert appealed for resourceful women who were not afraid of hardship to work in the missions as domestics and teachers. Dorval answered the call, and made the arduous trip west by Red River cart. With this move she would devote the rest of her life to the Roman Catholic missions of the northwest.
Between 1881 and 1883, Dorval lived in the Métis community of St. Laurent de Grandin, teaching and performing household and sacristine duties. Her kindness, tact, and teaching skills endeared her to the locals, and were even documented in the mission chronicles. There she also contributed to the establishment of a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. She left only when the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus arrived in the community.
Dorval moved on to establish a school in Battleford, where she taught until 1896. She then taught school subjects, crafts, and music in the little one room school in Batoche until 1914. (The harmonium which she used in classes is now at the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre.) If not busy enough with these tasks, she also worked as a housekeeper for Father Moulin and provided board for a few children who lived too far to walk to school. Mlle. Dorval then taught in Aldina before returning to St. Laurent de Grandin, where there was a shortage of qualified French language teachers.
After over fifty years of self-sacrifice and service, Mlle. Dorval retired in 1921 with the Sisters of Presentation in Duck Lake. She lived out her life pursuing community and missionary activities, and writing her memoirs. Her obituary in the Star Phoenix newspaper (1932) concluded: "She was admired by all who came in contact with her, for her remarkable memory, sound judgment, her cheerful disposition and edifying piety."