After a few messages sent to the community museum, I was informed that Pastor Lévis Beaudoin of the Riverview Community Church is of Franco-Albertan origin.
Luckily, he agrees to show me around the community!
Lévis Beaudoin and his wife, Maxine, moved to Frenchman Butte five years ago.
The couple then bought the old bar and restaurant in the village, closed for 10 years now, to renovate it and make it their home.
A good little story: the pastor bought the bar!laughs Mr. Beaudoin.
Astheure is our home; this is where we stay.
To his knowledge, he is now the only French speaker in the village.
” Finally they have another French to Frenchman Butte! »
Frenchman Butte started with a man who had the post trading [le poste de traite] just below the mound. When he died, they named the mound after him: the Frenchman. They didn’t know the guy’s name, but the village took the name of Frenchman Butte.
Binoculars for the color blind
Lévis Beaudoin and his wife are very involved in the community.
A few years ago, the pastor discovered the existence of binoculars that help color blind people.
Knowing color blind people Frenchman Butte, he thought it would be a good idea to have these binoculars for the community. With the help of the church, he managed to raise funds to buy a copy.
Today, visitors can find these famous twins at the top of the hill, next to the church, in a pavilion built of cedar.
A museum with stories to tell
In the heart of the village, a little further down the hill, we find the Frenchman Butte museum.
The latter includes various buildings, including a charming tea room built of logs.
The president of the museum, Tom Houghman, and his wife, Marilyn, the treasurer, are there to welcome me.
It is volunteers like them who keep this museum running and who care for the artifacts collected over the years.
We try to show what life was like in the days of the settlersexplains Tom Houghman.
They had a dream and we want to keep it alive.
In the company of Lévis Beaudoin, I go around the different buildings. We find, among other things, a train station, a school and the old general store of the village.
Each year, several school groups come to visit the museum to discover how the settlers who settled in Frenchman Butte.
However, one of the most surprising artifacts in the collection dates from before the arrival of the general store and the school…
Behind glass, one can see an old beaded leather coat. According to Lévis Beaudoin, this garment belonged to Louis Riel!
It is that very close to the village, in May 1885, a fight took place between the Crees and the Canadian troops during the resistance of the North-West.
We know a lot about the battle of Batoche, it is very popular, but this is the forgotten battle that happened in this region, supports the pastor.
A sign next to the coat indicates that it comes from a family of ancient blacksmiths. It is written there that Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont offered the garment in exchange for the services of the blacksmith.
Very close to the mantle, the museum also has an impressive collection of arrowheads.
After a full day discovering the place, I realize that I could still spend many hours there. And what a pleasure to be able to chat in French in a village that bears the name of Frenchman Butte.
It’s a community where, I feel, I still have a lot to discover!