GravelbourgGravelbourg, Sask, incorporated as a town in 1916, population 1116 (2011c), 1089 (2006c). The Town of Gravelbourg is located on a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) branch 119 km southwest of MOOSE JAW. It was named after Father Louis-Joseph-Pierre Gravel (1868-1926), a missionary colonizer, who settled there with 5 brothers and a sister in 1906. Father Gravel sought fellow immigrants among Québec and New England francophones, hoping to establish a number of French settlements in the same general area. His petitioning led to the CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY arriving in Gravelbourg in 1913. CN transferred the branch to the CPR in 1984.
In 1918 a convent was built in the town as well as a college, which was affiliated with UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA; other Catholic buildings followed: a Romanesque cathedral (1919), a monastery (1926) and a hospital. (The cathedral, bishop's residence and convent school were designated together as a national historic site in 1995.) With the creation of the Diocese of Gravelbourg (1930) and the appointment of a francophone bishop, the town became known as the mecca of Saskatchewan's French inhabitants.
Its importance for French Canadian culture has continued. Its college has become a residential, co-educational, French-language high school. The Centre Culturel Maillard (constructed 1984-85) houses a library and a radio station, and is the house and meeting place of several francophone associations. The centre also hosts the French Canadian dance ensemble, Les Danseurs de la Rivière la Vieille.
Gravelbourg is a service centre for surrounding farms where mustard seed is one of the main crops. (See alsoCONDIMENT CROPS.) A mustard seed mill was opened in the town in 2007.