The 1880’s

In this issue, we look briefly at the stories of three families who came to St. Albert from Deschambault, Quebec in 1880.


Alfred Arcand


Alfred Arcand was born in Deschambault in 1851.  In 1877 he joined the North West Mounted Police and served with them in the West until 1880.  At that time he returned to Quebec where he married Adele Bellisle.  They moved to the St. Albert area where he built a log cabin on their newly acquired homestead. On the farm they raised cattle, Percheron horses and grain.  To supplement their income Alfred did freighting between the Mission and Winnipeg.


Alfred had received a formal education as a youth so he was very interested in education in his new community.  With Octave Bellerose he organized a school east of St. Albert.  He served as the first teacher and was a member of the school board of Bellerose RC Public School District #6 until two years before his death. From 1912-18 he ran a trading post in Lac La Biche but at that time he and Adele returned to the St. Albert area where they resided until his death in 1932.


The Chevigny Brothers – David and Louis


Also born in Deschambault, David and Louis Chevigny had married two Arcand sisters, Elise and Josephine.  In 1880 the two families, including 14 children (Elise gave birth to her 9th child during the 16 week journey) left Quebec for St. Albert where they joined their brother-in-law Alfred Arcand.  They travelled from Montreal to St. Boniface, Manitoba, then the terminus for the CPR, by train and continued by oxen-pulled wagons to St. Albert.  They endured many hardships during the final leg of their journey but were warmly welcomed by Bishop Grandin on their arrival.


David was very active in helping develop the community.  He was involved in surveying the town, building the Bishop’s residence and rebuilding the bridge.  He operated the St. Albert Hotel. When St. Albert was incorporated as a town in 1904 David was elected as a town councilor.  He passed away in 1915 – five years after the death of his wife, Elise.


Louis worked for the Mission, served as toll keeper of the bridge, worked at the saw-mill and as a carpenter. Josephine, like her sister Elise, cared for a large family.  In 1885 Louis and Josephine took out a homestead just north of St. Albert where they lived until their deaths in 1921 and 1910 respectively.


Note:  The “Chevigny House” which was recently moved to River Lot #24 from its original location is the house built by Louis in 1885.  The construction pre-dates those of the Juneau House (1890), at 9 Mission Avenue and the Perron House (1901), at 10 Mission Avenue. As well, the Chevigny House may pre-date the Menard residence at 15 Madonna Drive, whose construction date is unknown but thought to be around 1885.


Reprinted from The Echoes, Vol. XXVI, No. 3, December, 2008; St. Albert Historical Society