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History

Vegreville was named after Father Valentin Vegreville, a Roman Catholic Oblate missionary in Western Canada. The name Vegreville was chosen by its founders, Joseph Benoit Tetreau and Joseph Poulin. The first settlers to the area were French-Canadian families who lived for a time in Kansas and arrived in April 1894. English people from the United States and Eastern Canada soon joined them followed by a major wave of emigration from Eastern and Central Europe, with others from the British Isles. By December 1895 Vegreville already had its own post office. By 1905 the Canadian Northern Railway came through 4 ½ miles northeast of the hamlet, so the decision was made to move its buildings next to the rail line. 

One of the most commented on aspects of Vegreville was the harmony of so many people from different cultures living and working together. By the 1950’s there were more than 30 different ethnic groups living in the Vegreville area. The four largest were the English, French, German and Ukrainian. The northeast part of Vegreville was known for decades as “French Town”. Here centered around the church, hospital, school, and convent, lived many French families. Vegreville is positioned at one of the southern points of what is known as the largest Ukrainian bloc settlement in Alberta. With the advent of Ukrainians to Vegreville, came a colorful folk culture with its exuberant dance and other folk traditions such as egg-decorating. 

Today, Vegreville’s famous weather-vane Easter Egg-the Pysanka, reflects this folk tradition. The caption beneath the Egg, written in the languages of Vegreville’s four largest ethnic groups (English, French, German, & Ukrainian), cites the harmony of how so many people came together to build a community and called Vegreville “home”.

 

Historical Walk

Brochure 

A walk through Vegreville’s historical streetscape.

History