photo: Curtis Trent

The Divine Murals of Morinville

By Craig Moy

It’s no secret that a significant portion of Alberta’s early settlers were French-Canadian. Their heritage is preserved in landmarks such as St. Jean Baptiste Church in Morinville, north of Edmonton. Morinville itself was founded in 1891 by Father John-Baptiste Morin and his parishioners. The existing church was built in 1907 and stands as a testament both to Catholicism’s central role in the life of the town and the grandiose architectural traditions of French religious culture.

The edifice is unmissable on Morinville’s main street due to its striking Romanesque Revival and High Victorian Gothic elements. Inside it’s even more spectacular, with a barrel vaulted ceiling, elaborate altar, ecclesiastical statuary, and a semi-domed apse and sanctuary that boast ornate tableaux depicting the life of John the Baptist, the church’s patron saint. Painted by Montreal artist Louis-Eustache Monty, the 18 century-old panels also cite the names of the pioneering Morinville families whose $50 donations paid for the murals’ creation.