A little bit of history…

The village of Zénon Park was founded in 1910 by a small group of Franco-Americans. They were French Canadians exiled to the United States who had served as laborers in the manufacturing cities of New England. They looked favorably on the rich agricultural lands of Western Canada which were being praised by the colonizing priest, Father Philippe-Antoine Bérubé. The offer was tempting; for ten dollars, you could become the owner of one hundred and sixty acres!

This first convoy of Franco-Americans was followed by others, a mix of French Canadians, French, and Belgians who sought to establish their families in a Catholic parish where French was spoken. Zenon Park thus welcomed new Franco-Catholic immigrants who would swell the ranks of the parish and ensure the prosperity of the region.

Historical Landmarks


In the spring of 1910, a small group of Pawtauket and New Bedford residents – Castonguay, Bachand, Favreau, Henley, Carpentier, Gélinas, Valois, Chamberland, Delage, Caouette, Soucy, Foucher, Courteau – left the United States by train and arrived in Prince Albert, in northern Saskatchewan. After a disastrous exploratory journey through arid and sandy lands north of Prince Albert, a group of 60 to 70 people traveled by train to the Tisdale area where they made their way to the vicinity of the present village and discovered an area where the soil was rich and black on the surface with clay underneath. These first pioneers lived under tents till they could build houses.


The parish of Our Lady of the Nativity was founded in 1913 by Father Émile Dubois o.mi. He took over from Father E. Pascal who, from the early beginnings of the colony, would come all the way from Prince Albert to say mass in the settlers’ homes. It was Father Dubois who undertook to build the first church (near the current cemetery) and who, to the delight of the pioneers, founded a parish. He was replaced in 1914 by Father Baud. The church and presbytery were destroyed by fire in 1930. The arrival of Father Armand Arès that same year marked the construction of the parish’s new church and presbytery.

Zenon Park church, built in 1930


At one time, Zenon Park was home to three grain elevators. With the construction of the CN rail line from Crane Junction to Arborfield, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, United Grain Growers (UGG), and the Pioneer Grain Company all opened for business in 1929. A UGG field representative wrote in his report that “the soil is a rich black loam on clay and silt subsoil. It is a little lighter on the hills. There is no wasteland. It is a beautiful district and will produce a lot of grain (…) There are about 20,000 acres in crop in the area adjacent to this siding”.

Zenon Park’s original Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator was built for the Pool in 1929 by the A. Pearson Construction Company. The elevator had storage capacity for 35,000 bushels. In 1950, this was increased to include another 55,000 bushels with another 40,000-bushel permanent crib annex completed in  1960. In 1980, this 51-year-old elevator was torn down to make way for the new modern facility which still stands today. The elevator holds 70,000 bushels and a crib annex holds another 44,000 bushels. The facility is equipped with dual elevating legs, a modem attached office, and a 60-ton receiving scale. In _____, the Wheat Pool closed the elevator to make way for a new generation of the enormous regional grain terminals that now cover the extent of the province under the new name Viterra. Clément McCrea, son of ex-UGG elevator agent Laurier McCrea, bought the elevator from the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in _____ and converted it into a private enterprise.

United Grain Growers (UGG) closed in 1977. In 1980, it was sold to the Saskatchewan Pool. Early elevator agents included René Fortier, Laurier McCrea, and Eddy St. Amand. Western Grain Co. operated their elevator until it was sold in 1950 to Pioneer Grain Co.  Although the elevator had electricity since it was installed in the village, the Pioneer company decided not to replace the diesel power unit for electrical motors. The Pioneer elevator closed in ___________.


This Sacred Heart Convent is the work of Father Armand Arès and was built in 1936 for the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Charity of Our Lady of Evron. In 1948, an addition was built to accommodate an increase in students attending the school. At its peak, the convent had a residence housing 62 students as well as the nuns and teachers of the establishment. The convent officially closed in 1969 although some Sisters lived in the building until 1973.

Between 1975 and 1977, the convent served as a factory and offices for Zenon Park Industries, a company specializing in the manufacture of winter clothing. Subsequently, the building was partially rebuilt and housed a daycare center, a library, a community center as well as the French community’s administrative offices. In 1997, the first floor of the building was renovated to accommodate students from the new Notre-Dame-des-Vertus school. The historic building was demolished in July 2010.

The Sacred Heart Convent was built in 1936.


The ark and the crypt of the Zenon Park cemetery were built by Jean-Pierre Botherel and his son Jean Botherel. The crypt measures twelve square feet and is eight feet in height. At the top of the crypt is another stone structure, which includes a plaque depicting The Last Supper. This structure is 4 feet long. There are also three bronze statues and a cross which were brought from the province of Quebec by Father Arès and placed at the top of the crypt upon its completion. The 12 steps of the stairwell which leads to the top of the structure are said to represent the twelve apostles.

The crypt is located at the Zenon Park cemetery


Zenon Park’s alfalfa dehydration industry is a perfect example of local French-Canadian innovation and ingenuity. Local farmer Philippe Marchildon was the first to propose the beneficial aspects of growing alfalfa in the region’s rich farmland. In early 1960, Philippe started investigating the possibilities of building an alfalfa dehydrating plant in Zenon Park.  A temporary committee, composed of Philippe Marchildon, Henri Poulin, Ernest Chabot, Euclide Sigouin, and Gustave Archer was soon appointed to further the studies on this matter. At that point, the only possible way to realize such a project was to involve a large group of farmers to invest in the plant and to grow alfalfa. Many problems had to be solved, but the community stuck together. This led to the creation of Zenon Park’s first plant, Zenon Park Co-op Dehydrators Ltd just north of town. Built in June 1961, it was destroyed by fire on August 25, 1969 and rebuilt in 1970.

The average acreage of alfalfa cut per season varied between 10,000 to 14,000 acres, with a working staff in summer months ranging between 30 to 35 employees including field and trucking contracts and a staff of 10 people at the plant site. This new source of revenue helped Zenon Park sustain its economic growth by employing a local workforce and paying local farmers for alfalfa crops. Seasonal employment helped retain the young farm labour force from leaving the area to seek work elsewhere.

The restoration of soil nutrients was apparent. Incorporating alfalfa into crop rotation replenished, to some extent, the much-needed nitrogen.  In 1969, Fred Lalonde established a second dehydrating operation approximately three kilometers southwest of Zenon Park. It was followed by similar plants in neighboring communities such as Arborfield and Tisdale. Thirty years later, shrinking Asian markets caused the region’s alfalfa dehydration to progressively shut down. Today, Arborfield Dehy Ltd is the only alfalfa plant still up and running.

Zenon Park Dehydrators Ltd


The community of Zenon Park was approached in 1974 by Bernard Wilhelm, then a professor at the Center for Bilingual Studies at the University of Regina, to participate in an adventure that marked the history of the community; an experimental telecommunications project whose goal was to test Canada’s Hermes satellite scheduled to be launched into space in 1977-78.

The Saskébec project aimed to allow residents of Zenon Park to exchange television programs prepared locally with the Quebec community of Baie Saint-Paul, nestled in the beautiful Charlevoix region. The Fransaskois community was asked to produce 50 to 60 hours of programming with the help of the Center for Bilingual Studies and the National Film Board.

Florent Bilodeau, director of the Zenon Park school, became the local director of the project. A classroom was transformed into a production studio and a radio tower was erected near the school. A trailer with a satellite dish was placed in the schoolyard to receive signals from Baie Saint-Paul. Community volunteers learned to operate the cameras, prepare for interviews, set up filming scripts, and become commentators.

For three months, between February 15 and May 14, 1978, the Saskébec project allowed francophones from Zenon Park and Baie Saint-Paul to talk to each other and exchange television productions intended to share the particularities of both communities. Definitely a slice of history that marked the imagination of all those who participated!


In 1997, Zenon Park’s École Notre-Dame-des-Vertus officially became the twelfth school of the new Fransaskois provincial school board, the Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (CÉF), whose creation was a direct result of the application of section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which gives Saskatchewan francophones the right to manage their educational establishments. The construction of Zenon Park’s new school began in 1998. After spending the first school year in the former convent, students and staff moved to the new building in May 1999. École Notre-Dame-des-Vertus continues to serve Francophone families from the communities of Zenon Park, Tisdale, Carrot River, Arborfield, Nipawin and Melfort that seek quality Francophone education for their children at elementary and high school levels.

The construction of École Notre-Dame-des-Vertus began in 1998


In July 2010, the community of Zenon Park celebrated its centennial. Hundreds of people, including several former residents, returned to their home town to celebrate the town’s rich past with friends and family. The weekend celebrations included a parade, concerts, family reunions, kid’s activities as well as an impressive multidisciplinary artistic tribute to Zenon Park’s history appropriately named Silo à souvenirs – Silo of memories. The performance was created by local artists and included songs, historic storytelling, modern dance as well as video projections that lit up the walls of the town’s last standing grain elevator.

Centennial performance Silo à souvenirs - Silo of memories


In 2019, the parish appealed to the community’s generosity in order to restore the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity. Donations and fundraising events helped raise the necessary funds to finance the repairs that were urgently needed to preserve our beautiful church. Repairs were made to the foundation, the roof, the front steps as well as the interior. A colorful lighting system was also engineered to light up the newly renovated bell tower.

Zenon Park church


Zenon Park celebrates this year the 110th anniversary of its foundation. Thousands of people have roots that lead to our town. We are proud to see that French culture lives on in our village and that a new generation of Fransaskois is taking over.

Camp Voyageur coming to Zenon Park in July 2020

Video Gallery


The Saskébec project allowed francophones from Zenon Park and those from Baie Saint-Paul (Quebec) to exchange local volunteer television productions via Canada’s first Hermes satellite. In this video, local project director Florent Bilodeau and project volunteers greet their new friends.


The following is rare footage (no audio) of Zenon Park’s early years. Zenon Park parish priest, Father Armand Arès, was one of the rare people in the region to own a film camera. This excerpt shows footage of Zenon Park’s Saint-Jean Baptiste Day celebrations which included a parade. We thank Patrick and Sophie Arès-Pilon for access to photos and videos included in the family’s Sevihcra Archives Collection.


In celebration of St. John the Baptist day, Véronique Poulin embarked on a project that she called The Zenon Parkois! This project was subsidized by the Passep’ART program and had the goals of strengthening the links between the school and the community, as well as to demonstrate that, despite the pandemic, there were still a lot of things going on in Zenon Park! You will surely see many familiar faces!


Meet dedicated artists from this Fransaskois community! This video (long version) highlights behind the scenes and the show of this project under the theme “In harmony, let’s celebrate those from here”. Our generation in music allowed participants to experience moments of learning, collaboration and exchanges during which the songs worked on were arranged for them. At the helm of production, coordination and choir direction: Véronique Poulin. The artist, who goes by the stage name Vaero, said she was happy to have spent precious time with the participants in order to prepare them for the final concert and to have been able to share “her stage tricks” with them.

Photo Gallery

Association fransaskoise de Zenon Park

P.O. Box 68, Zenon Park, SK, S0E 1W0


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