Belgian Settlement in St.
Last revised: Oct 20th,
first Belgian men started to arrive here alone in 1880s and
but soon their families and whole families began coming.
first recorded Belgian family which arrived was that of
Charles-Louis Menu from Passendale, West Flanders.
Felix, the brother of Charles-Louis from Wingene,
also came with them.
for a bigger map)
In the next year 1889 a larger contingent
from the same villages in West Flanders arrived including
Felix Menu senior, the father of Charles-Louis and Felix,
and his wife came but they soon return to Belgium where she
died. However, Felix senior returned in 1903 but died the
next year in St. Boniface. Others whose family names were
Vermander, Duyvejonck, Van Walleghem, Leie, Van Brabant,
Pattyn, De Cuypere, Lammens,
Verhaege, Wynant, Elslander, Leenknecht,Verhelst,
René, Bossuyt, Van Belleghem, Beheyt, Budens,
Bettens, Bonne and Boone arrived around 1889-1890. Others
may have gone directly to the farms in Swan Lake,
St.Alphonse, Mariapolis, St.Rose-du-Lac, St.Emélie,
Brandon, Ninette, Holland and Deloraine where Belgian, and
especially Flemish names are,common. A similar story of
was told by Camille
Although most were from West Flanders,
other arrived from East Flanders and Wallonia.
However the names of founding members indicates they were
The rapidly growing Belgian population,
especially in St.Boniface, resulted in
the formation of "Le Club Belge" on October 4th, 1905 with
founding members. It
is not recorded why the first Directors included equal
numbers, two, of women and men: Mrs Cyriel De
Meeter, Mrs. Edmond Gustement, Ivo DeBlaere and Edward
Lammens were the first Directors of "Le Club Belge".
Executive was elected at a meeting of the
Club held on
November 5 th 1905. Note that this all occurred long before
a Club building was erected on property purchased in 1907.
Construction was begun in August 1908. By that time the
Executive Committee had a more "conventional" composition
(all men) with 1 Louis De Nobele,
President, 2 Albert Doigny, Secretary, 3
Theophile Elewaut who had obtained the Club's
in the Club
was then (and remains) only $4.00! But it is clear from the
number of bartenders
in this picture that beer sales must have been an important
part of the Club's revenue.
During the early 1900's industrial growth in St.
Boniface took off. Industries such as flour mills, rolling
mills, a linseed oil mill, a factory making tarpaper and
roofing materials and the St. Boniface Union Stock Markets
were major employers. Some local St. Boniface entrepreneurs
did quite well. Arthur Cusson (Cusson Lumber), like his
former boss Senecal (Architect and designer of the Belgian
Club) before him, did well in the construction industry,
getting the big contracts from the Catholic institutions of
St. Boniface and of Western Canada. Financiers like the
Belgian Prosper Gevaert and the French Francois Deniset
would become promoters of large real-estate developments.
The brick works of Lamontagne and Chartier later became the
Marion Brick Works. According to Arthur Cusson, the original
brick works (1879-1889) were located on the West Side of the
Seine south of Provencher where the IGA store now is.
did the Belgian settled in St. Boniface? Many were in the
area known as
the "Belgian Quarter", this Seine River neighborhood was the
location chosen by the first Belgians who arrived in
after 1879, finding employment in various St. Boniface
industries. A sizable community grew up through "chain"
migration. The Belgian Club was nearby as were the Belgian
Sacred Heart Church and Rectory built in 1917.
Some of those who lived in the "Belgian
that time were (Click
for a bigger map):
Frederick Callewaert, a builder had his residence in 1913 at
Theodore Bockstael, a contractor, built his home in 1912 at
T.H. Vanassche, another builder, built a home at 370
Bruno Verhaeghe had a home at 397 Desautels
Place Cabana was a housing co-operative for
French speaking Catholic families. Initiated by the
Archdiocese of St. Boniface in 1952, by the end of 1953, 32
homes had been built by the Belgian contractor Boel at a
cost of $9,000.00
Belgians also lived in an area west of
Archibald and north of Marion in some of the 50 dwellings on
streets. Close to this older area along the Seine River
provided housing for workers in various industries including
the Barrett Co., Ltd., Winnipeg Steel Granary & Culvert
Co. Ltd., Canadian Carbonate Co. Ltd., Hooper's Marble &
Granite Co., Northwest Grain Dealers Association,
Continental Oil Co. Ltd., and the Union Stock Yards.
Street was named after the Prosper
Gevaert, born in Lievin (Pas de Calais) Belgium, a financier
and businessman. He was a founding member of the Belgian
Club and Band, and served as alderman of St. Boniface from
of Our lady of Lourdes was constructed near the Belgian
Sacred Heart Church, on the banks of the Seine river in
1936. It was opened officially on May 25th, 1936 in the
presence of an estimated crowd of 5 to 6
Grotto became famous throughout North America as a tourist
attraction and place of pilgrimage.It was demolished after
the flood of 1950 and only wrought iron fencing survives at
the Grotto in St. Malo, Manitoba.
On Desmeurons Avenue the Oblate Fathers
built an Indian Industrial School in 1890. Following a
devastating fire they set up their own boys school called
"Juniorate de la Sainte-Famille" in 1905. In 1907, the
Oblates sold the building and the large tract of land to
Oakholm Development Company and leased it back until the
building burnt down in 1911.
area of Belgian settlement developed near the Church of St.
Francis of Assissi, in the part of St.Boniface called "the
tales from "The Dump"
have been told. After Fr. Chrysostomus was named Local
Superior in St. Boniface on April 18th 1934, and also as
pastor of the Belgian Sacred Heart Church, he shifted his
activity towards the chaplaincy of the neighborhood of the
St. Boniface. On May 5th, 1933, Fr. Chrysostomus had
received after wearisome pleading he received from Msgr.
Jubinville, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, verbal
permission to erect a chapel in the remote corner of St.
Boniface known as the dump, about a 40 minute walk from the
Belgian Sacred Heart Church.
about the Fathers at those Churches
Most of the materal on this
page was researched and verified by Neil
from "The Belgians in Manitoba" by Keith Wilson and James.
B. Wydels, Peguis Publishers, Winnipeg, 1976, ISBN
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