St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park illustrates how a natural landscape used for hunting, fishing and camping by Aboriginal peoples evolved into a French-speaking Métis settlement, then a French-Canadian agricultural community of the pre-World War I period.
The restored Turenne and Bohémier houses are representative of the post-1870 era. Also located in the park, but not restored, is Delorme House which belonged to a prominent Métis citizen, Pierre Delorme. It is an excellent example of a Métis home from the St. Norbert area, prior to 1870. Henderson House, not from St. Norbert, but an early building from the Red River settlement, can also be seen.
Guided tours of the restored Turenne and Bohémier houses are offered May long weekend to September, Labour Day long weekend, seven days of the week. For further information, and opening and closing hours, please phone (204) 945-4236 (in season) or (204) 945-4375 (in off-season). Mailing address: Box 30, 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, R3J 3W3. Web site: www. manitobaparks.com
Visitors who wish to explore the grounds and to view the scenic and historic junction of the Red and LaSalle rivers, are invited to walk the 1-km self-guiding trail.
Creation of St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park began when the Fort Garry Historical Society Inc. saved Turenne House (1871) and Bohémier House (1888) from demolition and donated them to the Province of Manitoba. At the time, Turenne House was 100 years old.
The land at the junction of the Red and LaSalle rivers was acquired by the province with financial assistance from the Canada-Manitoba Agreement for Recreation and Conservation on the Red River Corridor (ARC). Additional funding was provided to restore both houses.
St. Norbert’s proximity to St. Boniface and its prime agricultural land attracted many French-Canadian families, among them that of Benjamin Bohémier (1848-1926) and his wife, Marie-Louise, from Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Québec, who first came west to farm in 1883. On river lots 104-105, 1.5 km north of the parish church, Bohémier constructed his handsome gambrel-roofed home which was continuously occupied by descendants for 84 years.
In 1973, the land on which the home stood was purchased to construct an apartment building. This phase in the development of the area was indicative of the gradual encroachment of Winnipeg and the disappearance of the agricultural community of St. Norbert.
Bohémier’s distinctive farm home with its decorative brackets and dormer windows was moved to the park, restored, and refurnished largely with items obtained from family members. Opened in 1985, Bohémier House recreates the lifestyle known to the family from 1906 to 1912.
Turenne House, 1988.
Joseph Turenne, who built a log house on River Lot 81 in the Parish of St. Norbert in 1871, was a Québec professional recruited by the Roman Catholic clergy to hold public office in Manitoba shortly after its entry into Confederation. He took the position of county clerk for the federal riding of Provencher and in 1872 married Adèle Royal, a sister of Joseph Royal, founder of the French newspaper Le Métis.
Located on the Red River’s west bank north of the parish church and convent, the house was well known to the travellers who used the nearby ferry crossing. For almost ten years, Turenne and his wife lived in this two-bedroom home with the surviving five of the eight children born to them during that time.
After the family moved to St. Boniface in 1882, newcomers to St. Norbert often rented the house from the parish priest. Among these were the Benjamin Bohémier family. Noteworthy also were the Grey Nuns whose occupancy gave the name “la maison des Soeurs” to the Turenne House.
The house was occupied until 1971 and its numerous residents helped to shape the community’s social, educational, economic and religious life. Restoration was completed in 1986.
Pierre Delorme (1831 - 1912) was born at St. Boniface, Manitoba. His father was Québecois and his mother, Métis. Pierre married Adélaïde Millet dit Beauchemin and raised a family of 13 children. In the mid-1850s he settled on River Lot 21 at Pointe Coupée (St. Adolphe) south of St. Norbert, where he built the family home.
The 1 1/2 storey structure was built, using vertical uprights at each of the four corners as well as at intervals along the walls. A longitudinal groove was cut into these posts and tongued horizontal logs were inserted between them. Spaces between logs, inside and outside, were chinked with a mixture of straw and mud. In Manitoba this construction procedure was known as Red River frame*.
Delorme combined freighting, merchandising and farming, with the more traditional practices of the buffalo hunt. In later years his home was used as a way station for stage coaches on the Pembina Trail which served travellers between Fort Garry and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Pierre Delorme’s education, relative wealth and family connections made him a natural leader among the Métis of St. Norbert. During the Red River Resistance of 1869-70, he was a close ally of Louis Riel.
In September 1870, Delorme was appointed Justice of the Peace for St. Norbert and at the first provincial elections in December, he was elected member for St. Norbert South. He was also the first Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Provencher.
Pierre Delorme’s house was donated to the Province by Mr. and Mrs. P. Vernaus in 1982.
*French expression for Red River frame - pièce sur pièce.
|Click for larger map|