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Father Lacombe Care Centre

What is today known as the Father Lacombe Care Centre began as Lacombe Home, the consummation of the extraordinary life’s work of Father Albert Lacombe. After his death in 1916, his body was returned to the church in St. Albert, the city named for his patron saint. But it was his last mission—the creation of Lacombe Home—to which he gave his heart, calling it “the most beautiful dream of my life”.

Lacombe Home

Lacombe Home was built in 1910 for the aged and orphans—two groups Father Lacombe identified as destitute and in need of community support and care. Working in conjunction with the Sisters of Charity of Providence, Father Lacombe intended his home as a Christian Catholic institution devoted to the care of everyone, regardless of religion. That vision continues as the core of all current and planned activities of care.

The generosity of others has always been fundamental to the realization of the vision. The original land—200 acres of a ranch north of Midnapore--was donated by future senator Patrick Burns. The Province of Alberta, Lord Strathcona of the CPR and Calgary businessman J.C. Duggan were significant among those who supported the $60,000 cost of construction.

When Lacombe Home opened November 9, 1910, Father Lacombe was 82 years old and lived amongst his friends and protégés as one of its first residents. Almost exactly six years later, on December 12, Father Lacombe died. Father Lacombe’s heart was briefly enshrined and is now buried in the Sister’s cemetery on the grounds of the present Centre.

Relying on Providence

After its founder’s death, management of Lacombe Home remained in the hands of the Sisters of Providence and continued to depend entirely on donations. In subsequent decades—particularly in times of war and epidemic-- Providence was indeed an apt descriptor of their resources. Donated deliveries included everything from pigs and produce to such largesse as a piano and even a car. The introduction of public health care improved financial matters, although quality of life at Lacombe Home continued to be sustained by generous community support.

Over time, out buildings were built on the land by Lacombe Home including a laundry and barn. In 1921 a large wing was added to Lacombe Home, and in 1956 Providence School was built on the south edge of the site. A novitiate became part of the north site in 1958.

Changing Times

In the late 1950s and early 1960s a new trend in social services meant the orphanage of the original Home would now no longer be necessary. The last children left in 1963. Shortly afterward, in 1966, the elderly were also moved to the new Father Lacombe Nursing Home, built just east of Lacombe Home. That same year the Sisters of Providence moved their headquarters to Edmonton, and the Providence convent was built to house the sisters who remained.

The site of the old Father Lacombe Home was sold to Faithful Companions of Jesus, who operated a school and used Lacombe Home as a boarding house. That school closed in 1968, and the home remained vacant for several years until it was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Calgary. The creation of the Inter-Faith Lacombe Centre in 1974 allowed the Home and other buildings to be used by various organizations, but the buildings eventually fell into disrepair and were effectively abandoned. The site of the current Father Lacombe Care Centre is still owned by the Sisters of Providence.

In 1979 the original Lacombe Home was designated a provincial historic site, while the new Father Lacombe Nursing Home forged into the future with the opening of a new dementia wing in 1980. Further renovations on the Nursing Home were undertaken in 1991.

Present Day

Sadly, on April 1, 1999 Lacombe Home was destroyed in a fire, and a city landmark and important piece of Alberta’s heritage was lost. The original vision, however, is intact: in May 2002 Father Lacombe Nursing Home changed its name to Father Lacombe Care Centre, and is presently home to 114 residents. Almost as many others form an extended community as participants in the Adult Day program.

The little white convent that housed the Sisters during the building of the home remains on Providence property, a treasured reminder of an extraordinary history of care.

Plans for the Future

In partnership with Alberta Health Services, the Father Lacombe Care Centre Foundation is laying the groundwork to fund and build a new 160-bed care centre on land across the road from the existing facility. The new building will offer larger resident rooms in seven 23-bed units, larger spaces for gatherings and programs and an efficient and convenient space configuration throughout the centre. In short, the new state-of-the-art facility will ensure residents and families receive the same exceptional care as was experienced by their predecessors over the past 100 years.

The historical Father Lacombe Centre

Lacombe Home built in 1911

The Father Lacombe Centre

Father Lacombe Care Centre opens in 1966

Providence Care Centre

Providence Care Centre to open Spring 2015

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