11 December

Father Lacombe persuading the Indians

Father Lacombe Dies

December 11 was the last day of life on earth for one of Canada's most remarkable missionaries, Father Albert Lacombe, who died at the Lacombe Home in Alberta. Two towns in the province have been named after him.

Father Lacombe's story is beautifully told in Grant MacEwan's Fifty Mighty Men. He began his service in the west at Fort Edmonton in 1853, and won the hearts of the Crees and Blackfoot Indians although they were often at war with each other. Father Lacombe was cut down by a bullet during one their fights.

One of the most delightful stories about him is how he became president of the C.P.R. for one hour! When the railway tracks were being laid across the Prairies, the Indians sometimes tore them up during the night. Father Lacombe persuaded them to let the railway go through, and the C.P.R. was grateful. When the directors of the company made one of their first trips west in 1883, they stopped at Calgary, where they invited Father Lacombe to have lunch with them in their private car. As they sat down together President George Stephen (later Lord Mount Stephen) announced that he had resigned for one hour. Director R. B. Angus moved that Father Lacombe be elected to succeed him, and the motion was carried unanimously. During the lunch he was given $10,000 to help the work of his mission, and also a lifetime pass on the railway.

Father Lacombe made (mod use of the pass and did not hesitate to go to Ottawa to see the prime minister or a member of the cabinet whenever there was an important problem to be solved. He would not accept an evasive answer, or delay. On one occasion, when a cabinet minister told him that he would look into the situation, Father Lacombe replied, in effect, "Well now, that's very good of you. I am accustomed to sleeping on the ground, so I will just lie down on this nice carpet of yours and rest while you are attending to this matter!" He received his answer within an hour!


11 December

-1687    A French and English commission, under a treaty of neutrality, gave Hudson Bay territory to France.

-1753    George Washington claimed Ohio Valley for Virginia in opposition to the claims of Canada (see December 4)

-1813    American General McClure burned Newark and Queenston on the Niagara Peninsula before retreating to the United States.

-1916    Saskatchewan voted to abolish liquor stores.

-1936    George VI became king on the abdication of Edward VIII, now the Duke of Windsor.

-1948    Newfoundland and Canada signed an agreement for Newfoundland to join Confederation.