St. Laurent is a former Métis settlement that overlooks the Saskatchewan River, and is also downstream from Batoche. You will enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery when crossing the river on the St Laurent ferry.
Around 1868, Gabriel Dumont founded the Métis camp which became St Laurent, and in 1873, Dumont became the first president of the local government. St. Laurent is where Louis Riel declared his intention to form a Provisional Government.
Pilgrims visit with one another while waiting for the ferry to take them to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at St. Laurent, in the early 1900’s.
The 1870’s brought hardship for the Métis people. With the buffalo herds diminishing, they realized that to survive they had to make greater use of their lands and the growing agricultural economy.
In 1874, a group of about 300 Métis settled on a stretch of land between St. Laurent and Fish Creek. Here, with their river lot farms, they freighted, hunted, fished, and farmed to support their families. In 1884, about 1500 Métis lived in the St. Laurent Settlement.
Most of the buildings in the St. Laurent Settlement were of log construction, the building usually resting on a log sill or fieldstone foundation. The Métis filled the spaces between the logs with mud and hay plaster and whitewashed the exterior. Initially, roofs were thatched, but may have been shingled as their owners became more prosperous.
In 1885, many residents of St. Laurent took part in the Northwest Rebellion, although no fighting occurred at St. Laurent. In the cemetery, some of the first casualties of the fighting are buried.