Grace & Allen LeBel

Go West Young Man 

Allen Lebel tells of how his father, the youngest of 21 children living on the Gaspe Peninsula, QC, joined his older brother at the age of 14 and moved to Alberta.  A further move to Canmore in 1936 resulted in a career at Canada Cement and a valley courtship including walking, hitchhiking and the odd freight train ride from Exshaw to Canmore, ultimately resulted in a marriage, children and a house in Exshaw.  

Allen & Grace LeBel, 2017

Grace & Allen LeBel

Exshaw, “The Heart of the Valley”  

Allen describes the changes in Exshaw he experienced as a 16-year-old resident when the original Town of Exshaw was torn down.  He tells of the impact the loss of facilities such as the curling rink, skating rink and tennis court, had on town life in addition to the additional loss of the general store, hotel and united church.   He further testifies to the consequences to the community resulting from the displacement of residents to Canmore, Cochrane and beyond. 

Life in Seebe  

Allen and Grace share stories of life in Seebe “a very special place”.  Whether just visiting or living in Seebe, the Lebel’s describe an idyllic town to raise children allowing great freedom and full of community spirit.   The small elementary school acting as a perfect venue for monthly parties with live music and a gymnasium as the dance floor.  Negotiating the “old twisty windy road” crossing the dam between Exshaw and Seebe didn’t stop the Exshaw neighbors from joining in on the fun. 


Municipal District of Bighorn Interview highlights of Grace & Allen LeBel - January 24, 2017.
For full interview, watch the complete Oral History Project playlist for Grace & Allen LeBel.