The history of Sault Ste. Marie’s Francophone community begins in 1622, with the arrival of Étienne Brûlé. Early French explorers were the first Europeans to set foot in this region. Francophone presence in this area led to the City’s name, which is French for “Rapids of St. Mary.”
French government over Sault Ste. Marie lasted until 1762, when the settlement was taken over by British troops. However, French speakers continued to settle in this area. A strong Francophone community and culture exists to this day across Northern Ontario, as well as in many other parts of Canada.
Sault Ste. Marie’s Francophone community has strong representation from Nova Scotia, Quebec, and New Brunswick, though it also includes immigrants from France and other French-speaking countries. In the past, French speakers were concentrated in the French Quarter near the waterfront and the former St-Ignace parish. Today you can find Francophone families and events throughout the Sault. Although Sault Ste. Marie has a small Francophone community, many organizations exist in the City to promote Francophone language and culture.
For more information about these organizations, click on the headings below.
- Centre francophone de Sault-Sainte-Marie
- Le Club de l’âge d’or
- Centre d’éducation et de formation pour adultes
- Le Carrousel des amis
- Association Canadienne-française de l’Ontario (ACFO)
Centre francophone de Sault-Sainte-Marie
The Centre francophone de Sault-Sainte-Marie is a community cultural center. Founded in 1979, the Centre francophone was a result of the merger of the Club Les Copains and the Association Canadienne-française de l’Ontario (ACFO). The goals of the Center are to:
- Empower the Francophone population to preserve and enrich the French language;
- Promote the French language and cultural life in the community;
- Encourage linguistic pride;
- Promote Francophone rights; and,
- Develop various services in French.
Through its programming, activities, and partnerships, it provides vitality, circulation, and the renewal of Francophone cultural and linguistic heritage, while strengthening a sense of belonging and Francophone pride.
Originally located on Wellington Street, the Francophone Center has evolved with the community, moving to Queen Street, Gore Street, and Spring Street, and Rankin Road before settling in its present location on North Street (inside l’École catholique Notre-Dame-du-Sault). Over the years the center has provided many opportunities for Francophone residents, including children’s camps, training, special events, and service clubs. Today it continues to be a cornerstone of the City’s francophone community.
Le Club de l’âge d’or
This club is an organization designed to meet the socio-cultural needs of citizens aged fifty or more.
Centre d’éducation et de formation pour adultes
Established in 1990, CÉFA is a non-profit organization that provides education and training for adults in the Sault and area. This training includes French, math, computer literacy, and preparation for employment.
Le Carrousel des amis
This is a childcare center that offers a range of resources and services to parents and children from birth to six years. This service is now called Child Care Algoma.
Association Canadienne-française de l’Ontario (ACFO), Superior North Regional (1997-2007)
This organization served the Francophones living in communities located along Highway 17 between Dubreuilville and Thessalon. It was closed in 2007 after representing the Francophone population for over 10 years.
Did you know?
The cross on Moffley hill is the tallest self-supported illuminated cross in the world. It commemorates the raising of a cross by St. Lusson in 1671, which first established a French Catholic presence in Sault Ste. Marie. It is maintained by volunteers.