1885, a 30
year old priest named Jean Gaire decided to leave France for
Canada and help others move to this new country.
homesteaders from Eastern Canada, Great Britain and Europe had
settled much of the land along the Souris River. Father Gaire, arrived
at Oak Lake Parish on July 10, 1888 and set off in a southwesterly
direction, in search of a suitable location to start a new community.
a large clearing that pleased the young priest. A few Metis
families lived nearby, so he decided to settle and called the place
Gaire applied for a homestead.
described his first church service in his memoirs: "At 9 o'clock my
three Metis families were there - 6 adults and 10 children. I have
neither choir nor children to serve Mass; I say a low Mass, all the
time admiring the simple, open piety of these brave people."
new community had a few more Metis families and some settlers
from Loire in France. The population tripled in three months!
1889 settlers began to arrive. There were now 43 homes
and close to 150 people!!
winter of 1889-1890, Father Gaire returned to France for a
month as "Immigration Agent" for the Canadian government. On March 23,
1890, forty French and Belgian immigrants came to Grande Clairiere.
By 1893, the community had
a post office, a church and rectory; and had
started building a school.
Gaire's dream was to have more than an ordinary school; he
wanted a boarding school where children from distant missions that had
no educational facilities, could be accommodated.
spring of 1898, construction began on the first convent. The
sisters arrived in Grande Clairiere on August 11 and school opened on
August 18 with 20 pupils registered.
his dreams in Grande Clairiere fulfilled, Father Gaire
requested a transfer to a new mission in Wauchope, Saskatchewan.
three-story convent in Grande Clairiere was built in
Clairiere community got a new look when the Canadian
Northern line from Hartney to Virden passed through in 1906. The train
brought better mail service and better delivery of supplies.
Already known for its large
church, and convent, it now became a
garages and even a bank.
operated by Claude Rey and Marcel Martine.
of Hochelaga opened as “la Banque Nationale” by Father
Pierquin and originally located in the Rectory. Later changed to La
The Grande Clairiere District
Grande Clairiere Highlights
St. John’s Catholic Church
700.B.1 / 1907
The frame church features tall spire and cross with a statue in front
gable of St. Louis de Gonzague, a gift from Mr. & Mrs. Desire Vinck
Sr. The church was once associated with a convent/school managed by the
Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.
S 34 – 6 - 25
700.D.1 / ca. 1910
Opened as “la Banque Nationale” by Father Pierquin and originally
located in the Rectory. Later changed to La Banque d’Hochelaga and
located in this building, which was located just north of the Rectory.
Gaston Boulanger was the manager.
The building was moved to a nearby farm.
700.D.2 / 1909
The store was built by Frank Vassart and operated by:
1912 – Marcel Martine & Claude Rey
1925 – Francois Pallard
1942-67 – Amedee Boulanger
The pressed metal ceiling and some original shelving is still evident
in the building that has been Moved from the village of Grande
Clairiere to a farm.
Bertholet Blacksmith Shop
700.D.3 / ca. 1910
Closed in 1976, the structure contains some blacksmith tools and
700.E.1 / 1925
Established by the Grande Clairiere Parish, the school was closed in
1966 and used as a clubhouse for baseball tournaments.
Grand Clairiere Cemetery
700.F.1 / 1888
Nearby is a fieldstone cairn listing the priests who served the
community from 1888 to 1995.
Jean Gaire Parish Hall
Florent Gregiore was the overseer for the building. An addition and
renovations were completed in1974 and 1985.
Maple Lakes Drain
Grande Clairiere area. Connecting Maple Lakes to the Souris River.
Constructed to drain Maple Lakes as part of a Water Management Plan