When the North West Rebellion erupted in 1885, Prime Minister Sir John A.Macdonald knew the man he could count on to assure the neutrality of the Plains Indians. Father Albert Lacombe had been the peacemaker in the earlier wars between the Cree and Blackfoot. Ordained a priest of the Oblate Order in 1949, this highly respected cleric of the frontier left a legacy of humanitarian work still evident today.
A few of his accomplishments include opening a hospital on the Blood Reserve in 1893 and a school in 1898. He offered spiritual encouragement to the employees building the CPR across the prairies. After negotiating a peaceful agreement with the Blackfoot Leader Crowfoot to allow the tracks to pass through Blackfoot territory, both Lacombe and Crowfoot were given lifetime travel passes by CPR President William Van Horne. Father Lacombe was the first parish priest in the growing town of Calgary and in 1884 he founded the Meridian School at Dunbow, Alberta.
A friend and spiritual leader for many people of Alberta’s native community, Father Albert Lacombe passed away in 1916. Despite their long standing rivalry, the Cree and Blackfoot nations came together to share him in death. Father Lacombe’s body was buried at St. Albert in Cree country while his heart was removed and interred at Midnapore, deep in Blackfoot territory, perhaps the most poignant demonstration of his affinity to Alberta’s Native people.