In 1946, the Franciscans were invited by Archbishop George Cabana of St. Boniface to take over Lac du Bonnet parish in Manitoba and its attached missions. Maple Creek was one of these missions, located approximately 20 km northwest of Lac du Bonnet. The friars would visit a few times a month to say Mass in the local school building. However, poor road conditions due to snow or rain often made travel to Maple Creek mission extremely difficult. The journey could be made partway in a car, but a tractor was the best solution.
In the spring and summer, rainstorms could make the road so muddy that vehicles would not be able to get through. A few instances are described in the Lac du Bonnet friary chronicles:
No mass at Maple Creek. Roads impossible. (3 Apr 1955)
In the afternoon, we go to Maple Creek. When we left Lac du Bonnet the weather threatened to rain. And it did rain: Right as soon as we had crawled into the wagon box behind the tractor. Mass was said in a farmer’s house, as we couldn’t reach the school. (15 May 1955)
In the winter, as recorded in the friary chronicles, the journey could be quite interesting:
In the afternoon, we have an adventurous time to get to Maple Creek. Got stuck four times going out, but not once coming back. (16 Jan 1955)
But such difficulties also had a usefulness:
We go to Maple Creek for an evening mass. The roads are not very good materially speaking. Spiritually taken, they served the purpose of examples for the sermon. Commenting on the message of St. John the Baptist, there are certain things we must level and others we must fill up. Take away the obstacles to reaching our goal, fill up the holes in our spiritual life. (5 Dec 1954)
The Franciscan Archives of Western Canada preserves and provides access to the history and heritage of the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit of Canada. The Archives contains records from Western Canada, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. To learn more, visit us at archives.franciscanfriars.ca or email the archivist at ofm.archives[at]gmail.com.