As the population of French-speaking families that settled in and around Port Alberni grew, there also grew the need for a French parish. Having received petitions by the French-speaking community on this matter for some time, Bishop James Hill requested and obtained the help of the Franciscans and announced the formation of a new parish in Port Alberni.
The first Franciscan sent to Port Alberni was Fr. Wilfrid Brazeau who arrived on July 1, 1950 to officially open the new parish the very next day on July 2, 1950.
This new parish, named Notre Dame des Victoires, made history as the first French-Canadian parish on Vancouver Island, and also marked the resumption of Franciscan activity on the Island since the Spanish Franciscans left some 160 years ago.
On Sunday, May 6, 1951, after tireless and faithful work on the part of the parishioners in raising funds, the new parish church was officially opened. There was solemn high mass offered in the morning officiated by the Franciscan Commissary Provincial, Fr. Alphonse Claude-Laboissiere. And Bishop James Hill solemnly blessed and dedicated the church in the afternoon.
“Our stories, Nos histoires” is a column dedicated to sharing the rich history and heritage of the Franciscans in Canada, drawing on content from the Franciscan Archives of Western Canada, which contains records from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.