Father Doucet School opened September 1990
Our School Patron
Leon Joseph Doucet was born in France on the 7th of January, 1847. One of a family of five children, he joined the Oblates on the 8th of September, 1867. Being very timid and shy, he was sent to Bishop Grandin in Canada (St. Albert), a trip that took five months.
He completed his studies in 1870 and became the first priest to be ordained in Alberta. As a missionary, he worked with the Cree Nation of Northern Alberta under Bishop Grandin, and was later assigned to Our Lady of Peace, the “old mission” up the Elbow River, on the 15th of May, 1875.
At this mission, Fr. Doucet was met by Fr. Scollen and two prospectors. When reports that the N.W.M.P. were planning to build a fort were confirmed, Fr. Scollen instructed Alexis Cardinal, their Metis companion, to build a hut where the two rivers join. Fr. Doucet was left at this fort mission with an orphaned Indigenous boy where he experienced many hardships. In the fall he moved into a tent while he awaited the building of a second mission at the junction of the Bow and Elbow rivers.
When the N.W.M.P. arrived in September of 1875 Fr. Doucet was the first person to welcome them. During the construction of the fort, he gave the shack to the police and retreated to the first mission. Later he returned with Fr. Scollen to live in a skin tent until November, while Alexis built a third mission, which was on the site of the former Holy Cross Hospital.
Fr. Doucet spent the remainder of his active life as a missionary in the south, chiefly among the Indigenous peoples of the Blackfoot, Blood and Peigan Reserves. He spent many years at Blackfoot Crossing and baptized Chief Crowfoot on the chief’s deathbed.
Fr. Doucet retired in 1938. He was in his 96th year and his 72nd year of his priesthood. Four thousand Indigenous peoples, priests and friends paid tribute to Fr. Leon Doucet as they attended the last rites of this quiet, peaceful man who was frequently referred to as “God’s Little Lamb.”