Biographies

Biography of Lacombe, Albert, 1827-1916

Born in Saint-Sulpice, Lower Canada in 1827, Albert Lacombe attended the Collège de l’Assomption and studied theology in Montreal. Ordained in 1849, he set out for the West, and for two years assisted the clergy working among the Métis population at Pembina. Returning briefly to Lower Canada, Lacombe offered his services to Bishop Taché in 1852 and accompanied him to the Red River Settlement. He was to spend his entire life in the archdioceses of St. Boniface and St. Albert (Alberta) and serve as vicar general for both archbishops. First stationed at Lac Ste Anne, Alberta, he began his novitiate with the Oblates, and became a member of the congregation in 1856. Over the next 18 years, Lacombe was to work tirelessly at evangelizing the Cree and Blackfoot, mostly in present-day Alberta and British Columbia. In 1874, Lacombe was transferred to the archdiocese of St. Boniface to assist Taché in promoting French Canadian colonization. He was sent to Quebec and to the New England states on a number of occasions to encourage French Canadians to settle in Manitoba. Six years later, he was called back to Alberta by Archbishop Grandin, as his services were required among the Aboriginal people there. Alberta was to remain his primary residence for much of his active missionary career. He returned to St. Boniface in 1894 to assist the ailing Taché in securing the restoration of educational rights for Manitoba’s French-Catholic population. He continued to act as a representative of Taché’s successor, Archbishop Langevin, in negotiations with the Catholic hierarchy and federal politicians with regard to the schools question. Known to the Blackfoot as “the good heart”, Lacombe had a long and distinguished career as a missionary and negotiator in Northern and Western Canada. He died at Midnapore, Alberta in 1916.

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Digital Resources on Manitoba History