Mission-Cliff Bungalow Francophone Century Homes
The area currently known as Mission, was first settled by the Oblate missionaries who were also the first non-natives to live permanently in Calgary. It was the vision of Father Lacombe to create a permanent French-Canadian settlement, complete with church, school, convent, community hall and hospital “surrounded by the homes of the French speaking faithful” (his description of the residential subdivision). Some families moved from Québec, and “Cheminots”, railway labourers from Québec, came west in 1883-84 to work on the westward construction of the C.P.R. line. Most of the French-speaking immigrants settled here, in what was later to become Rouleauville, and is now known as Mission.
Many of the residents who settled in the community founded, fostered or lobbied for francophone cultural and economic services for the citizens of Southern Alberta. In 1884, almost immediately after Father Lacombe obtained their land grant, the Oblate fathers had their land surveyed into residential streets and lots, and sold the lots for $60, $100 for corner lots. They began recruiting colonists in 1887, often from Quebec. The street names depicted the French and Catholic origins of the area (Notre Dame, Doucet, Rouleau, St. Joseph, etc.). A small residential community developed along Seventeenth and Eighteenth Avenues by the 1890s and a few blocks of land which were acquired by speculators.
The most prominent citizens of this community were brothers Charles-Borromée and Édouard-Hector Rouleau who carried on Father Lacombe’s vision of a French-speaking and Catholic community. Charles Rouleau was born in 1840 at L’Isle Verte, Québec. A 19th-century Canadian politician, lawyer, judge and writer, he served as Stipendiary Magistrate and was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of the NWT. His brother Édouard was for many years surgeon to the local North West Mounted Police detachment. He was also appointed as Belgian Counsul for the NWT, a position he held for fifteen years. He was founding member and first president of La Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1888. Hector and his wife Catherine lived on the north side of St. Joseph Street, across from the church (the house was moved behind the parish hall to make way for a parking lot). Here, their four children grew up in a bilingual Catholic environment. A devout Roman Catholic, Édouard involved himself heavily in Calgary’s Catholic religious life. He served on the separate school board from 1889 to 1912, was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the chancellor of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association. His son, Albert, was the first native-born priest ordained in the Calgary diocese. His daughter Albertine spent her adult life as a nun with the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus. In 1899 the area was incorporated as the Village of Rouleauville in recognition of the two brothers.