Grande Clairière

(1888 – Present) A Catholic priest from France established a parish and community here.


**1888-Present** ##Father Gaire One spring day in 1885, 30 year old Father Gaire came home from Mass to find a brochure in his mailbox. It had been written by a French-Canadian Priest, inviting Frenchmen to immigrate to Canada. Gaire felt called by God to help populate western Canada with colonists and eventually he was granted permission from his bishop to go. He arrived in Winnipeg on May 21st 1888. His wish was to establish a parish in the western part of the province, so he boarded a train to take him to Oak Lake, the most westerly parish accessible by train. Once there, he struck out to the southwest to find a suitable location to establish a new community. A little to the east of the marshy Maple Lake he found a great big clearing that pleased him, just on the northern edge of the [Lauder Sandhills](item=lauder-sandhills). He decided to establish his community here and name it “Grande Clairière”. [[inline:left:grande-clairiere-church]] Gaire applied for a homestead near to the only other house that was in the area: that of the family of Thomas Breland. The Métis family (who likely settled in the area after [Fort Mr. Grant](article=fort-mr-grant) shut down) welcomed the enthusiastic young priest. Using the simple table in the Breland’s home as an altar, Gaire held his first Mass on July 22, 1888. In attendance were the three Metis families who lived nearby which amounted to 16 people. ##Growth He soon realised that the 4 by 5 meter house he …

(1898 - 1923) The Grande Clairiere Convent was the home of six nuns and about 40 boarding house students at a time.