Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 1999
Town celebrates its past
Catholic contributions given prominence in Legal murals
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
If you want to learn more about the early history of Western Canada, go to Legal, a small bilingual community 55 km north of Edmonton.
The French Association of Alberta has hired several local and out-of-town artists to recreate the history of the French in Western Canada on the town's most prominent buildings.
The larger-than-life murals depicting various aspects of the history of the West give a prominent place to the Church's contribution.
Already some murals adorn the walls of schools, grocery and drug stores and even the post office in the town of 1,000.
Of the 20 murals planned, 12 are expected to be completed this summer and the rest by the end of summer 2000, said French Association president Ernest Chauvet.
"We wanted to build more pride in the community and murals seem to do that," said Chauvet, also director of Radway's John Paul II Bible School.
While most of the murals are being painted directly on walls, some are being painted on plywood panels and then erected. In some cases a wall is built for the sole purpose of painting a mural.
The majority of the murals are painted in acrylic using photographs from the Alberta Archives.
The project will cost more than $120,000 and it will be covered largely by donations from individuals, businesses and community organizations, Chauvet said.
Each mural costs $6,000 to $8,000. The French Association plans to contribute around $1,000 per mural.
Five murals are based on religious themes. A 10-by-24-foot mural depicting the contribution of the Grey Nuns to health and education is almost complete.
It stands prominently on a wall built beside Ecole Citadelle, a block north of St. Emile Church.
A mural on Bishop Emile Legal, the second bishop of St. Albert and first archbishop of Edmonton, will soon be painted on church property by artist Karen Blanchet. It will be sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the French Association.
There also will be murals on Father Morin, a colonizer who between 1890 and 1899 brought 2,700 settlers into the area, and Father George Primeau, a community-building pastor who served in both Legal and Morinville in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s.
When Western Canada was developed, the local priest often doubled as village leader.
That's what the mural on Primeau will depict. "It symbolizes someone who knew how to get the community together, not only the Catholics but the Protestants and all the people," Chauvet observed.
By the end of June the French Association will release a booklet explaining the story behind each mural.
The bulk of the murals will be located in Legal, although the one on the Oblates will be located in the crypt besides St. Albert Church in St. Albert.