The RCMP and the fire department are investigating the fire that destroyed the historic church in the town near Edmonton.
Police believe the fire is suspicious and are probing it alongside fire investigators. In recent weeks, several catholic churches have been burnt down across Canada following the discovery of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools.
The St. Jean Baptist church in Morinville was built between 1894 and 1907, and is registered as one of “Canada’s Historic Places”.
The registration states that “The heritage value of the St. Jean Baptiste Church and Rectory lies in their association with French religious culture in the province and their connection with the majestic architectural traditions of Quebec.”
The significance of the church has its roots in the francophone settlement in Western Canada.
“In 1891, Fr. Jean-Baptiste Morin led several francophone families to the Morinville area from Quebec. His new community was part of a colonization plan to encourage francophone settlement in the vast lands of Western Canada.”
“St. Jean Baptiste Church is one of the most elaborate and ornate Roman Catholic churches in Alberta and reflects the nineteenth century French-Canadian ecclesiastical style associated with architect Thomas Baillairge.”
On the website of the church, an announcement is placed stating that “OUR CHURCH BURNED!”