Towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, settlers from the United States, the eastern provinces of Canada and even Europe, started to work their way westward to eventually take homesteads in the region now known as Legal. Among the earliest settlers were Theodore Gelot and Eugene Menard. Both of these gentlemen came from France via California searching for homesteads.
In 1894, they started homesteading in the Legal area. Soon many others, the majority coming from the province of Québec, were attracted by the rich fertile soil found in the area and a small community was formed.
L'abbe Morin had been chosen as colonizer for the west and his task was to recruit settlers from Québec. In 1889, the pioneers went ahead with plans to build their first chapel. By 1911-1912 with the completion of the C.N. Railway, plans were made to build a church. A small community was rapidly growing and from this small community the Village of Legal was born.
Through the years Legal has continued to lay its claim on being a progressive and friendly community rich in historical culture. On January 1st, 1998 Legal achieved "Town" status. Official bilingual status was proclaimed on April 1st, 2000. The Town of Legal has been federally proclaimed as "The National Capital of French Murals".
With deeply rooted community values you can still find multi-generational businesses operating in Town such as Legal Motors. People have chosen to lay claim to Legal and carry on the tradition of its forefathers. Of the small prairie towns, Legal continues to adapt to the surrounding environment, political landscape and societal changes. The passion of Legal can be felt the moment you enter the community. If you are interested in genealogy, have a love of language, or want to experience rural living, the people of Legal will welcome you to their Town and invite you to celebrate successes together.
Expressing life's joy
Story by Ernest Chauvet
Perspective of Lucienne Montpetit
"Ainsi mon moine voulait danser," my sister led. "Ainsi mom moine voulait danser," we answered. We five sisters milked the cows as we sang; our rhythm matched the sound of the milk striking our steel pails.
Each morning began the same. We woke and listened to Dad sing as he gathered the cows in the barn. Comfortable beneath our warm blankets, we waited for Dad to get us out of bed. At 5:45 a.m., we would hear, "Debout les filles! Les vaches ne se traient pas par eux-memes!"
"Get up girls! The cows won't milk themselves!" Twenty cows waited to be milked every morning before school. If we didn't start at six a.m. sharp, we might not have time for breakfast. From 6:00 to 7:15, we sang French and Christian songs as part of our morning prayers while we milked our twenty cows. We poured the milk into a vat and then cooled it before it was bottled to be delivered to the local village, all before going to school!
Dad always said, "Cows give more milk when there is music!" We followed his lead until we knew our songs well enough to sing on our own. Without radios, we took turns leading out sisters into music we loved. We looked forward to the mornings when we would lead, so getting up wasn't a problem. Within fifteen minutes, the barn echoed with our voices.
Our singing also helped wake the Letourneau boys, who lived across the street. Like birds, we greeted every morning with a joyful song. I was ten years old at the time. As the youngest, I had fewer cows to milk, but I sang just as loud as my sisters did.
As I sang, the cows sometimes swatted me with their tails. That stung, but I kept singing anyway. They can't help their nature and I can't help mine - my heart was too light to feel down for long. With a tune on your lips and a song in your heart, you can feel joy no matter the circumstances. Time passes by faster too. Before we knew it, we were done milking, but more responsibilities awaited us.
While my sisters evaporated milk or separated the cream from the milk, my oldest sister instructed me, "Lucienne, go get breakfast ready."
I prepared breakfast for 7:15 a.m. and, after another fifteen minutes, we left to deliver milk to the people living in the village. We sold the milk for five cents a liter and later increased the price to ten cents a liter. We kept track of Dad's accounts and collected payments as we went. We sisters worked well together because everyone knew what to do and enjoyed doing it.
One day, a friend came to visit. She grabbed the back of the cow's leg while I was milking. Suddenly, my milk pail flew across the barn, struck the wall, and splat into some cow manure. Wet with milk, I chased after my friend by I couldn't catch her. I was angry and breathing hard and I had to clean up before going to school. Worse, I had to clean myself in the barn since we had no running water in the house. A few weeks later, she visited again. My anger over the incident was gone by then and we laughed together as we reminisced the whole event of what happened that day.
At 8:15 each morning, we finished out chores. We quickly washed, changed, and ran off to school. When we got home at night, we brought the cows in from the pasture and milked them again always to the sound of music. After we delivered the fresh milk, we returned home just in time for supper.
Once we finished supper and cleaned the dishes, Mom led us into music on the piano. We sang from 8:30 until 10:00 p.m. every night. We didn't want to go to bed, but Dad always reminded us that we had chores in the morning. He knew that 5:45 am. was early and we couldn't stay up all night singing and playing cards.
Though we seemed always busy, Sunday was special. From the age of ten, I sang at church. During the Christmas midnight mass, the choir even let me sing solo! I knew from then on that singing was how I wanted to express the joy in my life. It doesn't matter how you express your life's joy - what is important is the decision to have joy and then find a way to express it.
I carried my childhood habits into adulthood. I still sing when I do dished, cook, or clean. There's work to do, so why not enjoy it while I can? Today, eleven children call me Grandma and I still sing all the time, expressing my joie de vivre.
I instilled in my children that same love of music and positive-attitude work ethic. Gerald, my son, has a full time Christian ministry called 'Cat Chat'. It is a ministry of ministers to children through music. Janelle Reinhart, my granddaughter, is a Christian recording artist. When the Pope came to Canada for World Youth Day, Janelle sang to a gathering of 800,000 people! When I remember being with her behind stage, I'm overwhelmed with pride and happiness. Isn't it strange how we can be so happy when someone we love is recognized?
Life has its share of obstacles. While we can make a thousand excuses, if we take on life as a gift to enjoy, if we seek the good in every moment, great things happen! At a young age, I opened my heart to God. I faced my chores with a positive attitude. My wildest dreams have come to life as I watch my children and grandchildren tour North America and reminisce Janelle's 800,000-person experience. And to think that all this started with a ten-year-old girl singing at six a.m. while she milked the cows!
When I was young, we had no running water, no electricity, no TV. We proudly wore hand-me-down dresses, people say, "Life is what you choose to make it." Well, we chose to sing and have fun!
Chauvet, E. G. (2016). Adventures of my Alberta. Legal, AB
Much of Legal's history has been captured in this book. The chapters are large and may take some time to download, please be patient and enjoy the read.