Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, founded in France in 1816. In 1841, at the invitation of Bishop Bourget, Canada became their first foreign mission. With steady reinforcement from France and Canadian recruits, they moved up the Ottawa Valley, and in 1845 into the North-West, where the establishment of the Catholic Church in western Canada was largely Oblate work. Their first work was to bring Christianity to the natives, but in the West especially this led to a large role in bringing about reconciliation between the native peoples and the European settlers and civilization; Father Albert Lacombe was particularly important in this area.
From the time of Alexandre Taché, one of the first 2 Oblates to come to the West, and later second Bishop and first Archbishop of St-Boniface, Oblates provided the first bishops for most of the dioceses of western Canada. In 1848 they founded the College of Bytown, renamed the College of Ottawa in 1861 and, by Parliament in 1866 and papal charter in 1889, the University of Ottawa. In 1965 the Oblate foundation became U Saint-Paul, federated with the U of O, which was reconstituted as a secular university.
Since the 1920s the Canadian Oblates have also been active in foreign missions. They started in Basutoland in 1923 and have continued to be active in Africa and South America. There are now about 90 Canadian Oblates in this work. The Canadian community used to be organized into 11 provinces, but consolidation has reduced the number to 8. In 1993 there were 845 Oblate priests and 232 brothers in Canada.