Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 27, 2001
WCR Letters to the Editor
The real origins of Bentley's Our Lady of Victory CampFurther to the WCR article of June 11 ("Fr. Rooney's contribution to Our Lady of Victory Camp," Letters), I wish to correct the misinformation in regards to OLVC.
Andre Guillemaud and Father Rooney had discussed setting up a camp on the lakeshore for a number of years before any land was purchased. On May 27, 1949 my father-in-law, Andre Guillemaud, purchased eight acres of land adjacent to his farm as grazing land - in order to keep the price low. Andre Guillemaud gave those eight acres of land to Fathers Murphy and Rooney in March 1950 for Our Lady of Victory Camp.
The inheritance Father Rooney received was from his brother in Montana - this included a 1950 black Oldsmobile. He did not purchase the land for the camp. A cheque for $100 was given to Andre Guillemaud which was promptly torn into many pieces, much to the disgust of his son Joe Guillemaud - as they were a very poor family.
In addition to the land donation Andre Guillemaud and his sons (one is my husband Joe) worked many months on the original construction of the camp buildings - some of which are still standing.
A Mr. Wilde, owner of the lumberyard in Rimbey, either donated most of the lumber or sold it at cost to enable construction. Mr. Wilde also "donated" the labour of carpenters - his employees - to assist. Father Murphy's parish included Rimbey and thus was able to arrange the involvement of Mr. Wilde.
Charlie Norvila (his farm borders the camp to the south) and his son Paul were also involved in the original construction of OLVC. I understand Paul Norvila assists today with the camp.
Father Rooney's parish included the towns of Bentley and Lacombe. When in Bentley my husband was an altar boy for Father Rooney.
Father Rooney constructed the grotto at the Catholic church in Lacombe from rocks gathered along the lakeshore adjacent to OLVC, the Guillemaud and Norvila farms. Father Rooney would travel along the lake in a very decrepit old boat, which he kept at the Guillemaud farm.
For the first two years of operation of OLVC, there was no road built into the camp. The only access was through the Guillemaud farmstead and by way of a trail cut through the bush on the east side of the Guillemaud property. The trail was dirt and when it rained, the "road" was impassable.
The Guillemaud's old tractor stood ready day and night to tow the vehicles from the camp a distance of about two miles.
Although Andre Guillemaud was a very poor man, he donated much of the foodstuffs for the first years, such as potatoes, meat, poultry and eggs. In addition many articles for the kitchen and main hall were also donated.
For the first two years of operation there was no electrical power to the camp, as power was received on the Guillemaud farm in 1949, all of the gas lamps, iceboxes, windup record players and manual pumping equipment for the water well were given by Andre Guillemaud.
In addition Annie Guillemaud supplied all the linen for the nuns' and priests' cabins. They gave much but asked for nothing in return.
However, their lasting legacy should be honoured and respected by all that attend, work, counsel or are involved in anyway with OLVC.
The Guillemaud family would appreciate it if you would print the real history and once and for all lay to rest all the myths that keep appearing in your publication relating to the founding of OLVC.
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