St. Norbert is a bilingual (French and English) neighbourhood in the southernmost part of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. While outside the Perimeter Highway, (the beltway that surrounds most of Winnipeg), it is still part of the city. The population is just over 5,000. Each summer, the community is home to the St. Norbert Farmers' Market, drawing large crowds from Winnipeg and the surrounding area. Other attractions include the St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park, and the St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre.
The original inhabitants of what is now St. Norbert were First Nations peoples, including the Assiniboine, the Cree and the Ojibwa, who were drawn to this region because of its hunting and fishing opportunities. The community bordered on two rivers - the Red and LaSalle - and a bison trail ran from the south bank of the La Salle River to bison hunting grounds nearly 50 kilometres away.
St. Norbert’s prime location along major trade and transportation routes proved advantageous. With the arrival of the French, the Scots, and other Europeans, and with the growth of the Métis population, St. Norbert developed into a permanent community. The Pembina Trail (now Pembina Highway) passed through St. Norbert as it routed travellers from Upper Fort Garry (present day downtown Winnipeg, and the primary southern outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company) to St. Paul, Minnesota – the nearest railhead.
The settlement was elevated to the status of parish in 1857 and given the name St. Norbert in honour of the first bishop of St. Boniface, Bishop Joseph-Norbert Provencher. The first parish priest, Father Jean-Marie Lestanc, was followed by Father Charles Mestre in 1860, then by Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot in 1862.
On October 19, 1869, a public meeting was held at St. Norbert Roman Catholic Church. At that meeting, the Comite national des Métis was formed, with Louis Riel as secretary. The first act of the Committee was an erection of a barrier across the Pembina Trail to keep out unwanted emissaries of the Canadian Government.
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