From 1847 to 1850, Father François Bermond visited the Saulteux who lived around Lakes Winnipegosis and Manitoba. He built some chapels including one to Our Lady of the Lake to the southeast of Lake Manitoba. Faced with the bad grace of this Indian tribe, Bishop Taché sent the missionaries further north.
The evangelization of the Saulteux was re-commenced in 1856 by Father Joseph Lestanc who built a chapel there in 1857-1858 and then by Fathers Augustin Maisonneuve, Zépherin Gascon and Laurent Simonet. From 1864 to 1870 Father Simonet lived at Saint-Laurent, not far from Our Lady of the Lake, more than 100 kilometres north of Saint-Boniface. Thirteen half-breed and Amerindian families lived around the mission in 1866 and in 1893 there were 125. Father Charles Camper was in charge of this mission for 30 years (1866-1897) and Brother Mulvihill was there for 46 years (1867-1913). During that time he taught in the school and meantime he built a school and, in 1873, a new church. The mission was made a parish in 1876. The Fathers visited about ten mission stations far to the north and around the nearby lakes. In 1897, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary undertook to take charge of the school. According to Father Louis Gladu, writing in 1907, many immigrants settled around Saint-Laurent, which possessed a “church, a house for the missionaries, a convent, all built in stone.” The Oblates received novices from 1888 to1897 and then from 1924 to 1950. The house was sold in 1951 but the Oblates continued in charge of the parish. Their residence is in a little presbytery built in 1952.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.