Alberta's Provincial Historic Sites, Interpretive Centres and Museums
Father Lacombe Chapel

Father Albert Lacombe

Sunday night, when the cathedral was filled, [Father George Belcourt] went up into the pulpit and painted in an eloquent way the life and work of his missions… I was struck to the heart. An interior voice called to me – 'Quem mittem' (Whom shall I send?) and I said in reply, 'Ecce ego, mitte me' (Behold, I am here; send me).

Quote- Father Albert Lacombe, 1848

Father Albert Lacombe (1827-1916) was a builder of bridges – between places, between people, between periods of history. Born in 1827 in Québec, Lacombe spent most of his life traveling throughout the vast lands of western Canada and negotiating relations between First Nations, Métis, and Euro-Canadians. Lacombe's accomplishments are staggering. He established First Nation missions, served numerous Roman Catholic parishes, and founded new settlements. He mastered several First Nation languages and published dictionaries and prayer books in these dialects. During the upheavals of the 1880s, Father Lacombe was a peacemaker, resolving disputes between indigenous people and the federal government and Canadian Pacific Railway. He established the Lacombe Home in Midnapore and recruited the Sisters of Providence to administer care for the sick, the poor, and the aged at the site. Lacombe coordinated the construction of bridges and grist mills, of schools and churches. He was one of the most influential figures in shaping the transition of western Canada from a sparsely populated territory inhabited almost exclusively by indigenous people and fur traders to a land defined by survey lines and railway tracks and increasingly populated by Euro-Canadian settlers.

Although Lacombe's time as resident Oblate in St. Albert was short – he left in 1865 to minister to the nomadic Cree and Blackfoot – his impact was profound. In addition to selecting the site for the mission and erecting its first building, Lacombe also recruited settlers, coordinated the construction of one of the first bridges in western Canada, and organized the first supply chain of carts from Red River to Edmonton. His indefatigable spirit and total dedication to the mission in its early years ensured its future.

Last reviewed/revised: March 18, 2016
Memorial Card

Memorial Card issued for the 50th Anniversary of the ordination of Father A. Lacombe, omi, 1899.
Photo: Missionary Oblates, Grandin Collection at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, OB4336A

Unveiling of the Father Lacombe Statue

Unveiling of the Father Lacombe statue, 1929.
Photo: Missionary Oblates, Grandin Collection at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, OB11031

Father Lacombe with Indian chiefs

Father Lacombe with Indian chiefs at Earnscliffe–the Ottawa home of Sir John A. Macdonald.
Photo: Provincial Archives of Alberta, P200