The coat of arms of the RM of St. Laurent, bearing the motto Ayangwamisita (“Be safe” in Ojibwa-Cree) and the name of the municipality in French, reflects the community’s Métis and Francophone roots as well as its cultural diversity.
And, as the images on the coat of arms suggest, the municipality’s cultural, family and economic life is rich, vibrant and diverse. St. Laurent is a community where you can work, play and raise your family in French, English and the traditional Michif language.
The municipality comprises the village of St. Laurent, home to the highest concentration of residents and services, and Oak Point which, like St. Laurent, is on the shores of Lake Manitoba.
Located 80 km northwest of Winnipeg, St. Laurent has a unique cultural heritage. It became a fishing destination when Métis families arrived from Pembina to settle there in 1824. The community got its name when a missionary, Charles Camper, established the Catholic parish of St. Laurent in 1858.
The municipality was founded in 1882. In 1905, several Breton families arrived from France, followed by French-Canadians in the 1930s, and Mennonites in the 1950s.
The Francophone Métis culture is celebrated every summer during Métis Days and the Métis Music Festival, and in early March, at the Manipogo Festival, a winter celebration named after Lake Manitoba’s famous mythical serpentine monster. The region’s fishing festival offers visitors a chance to see traditional ice fishing demonstrations, sample delicious pickerel fillets, and tap their feet to Métis jigs and reels at the Fisher’s Ball.
St. Laurent is back in business after recovering from a devastating flood in 2011. The community now has 1,338 residents, some 200 more than in 2001. Given the popularity of its beautiful sandy beaches, the population can double during the warmer months. In the spring, many Winnipeggers and Manitobans from other regions begin flocking to their cottages, where they spend most of the summer. When they aren’t at the beach, residents and visitors can be found playing a few rounds on the Manipogo golf course.
While recreational hunting and fishing are a big draw for sports buffs, the long-standing commercial fishing tradition is an important part of the local economy. Wintertime catches include perch and pickerel, while spring fishing yields more common carp. Further inland, the main industry is cattle farming. More than 66 percent of municipal businesses are agriculture related.
The community boasts several restaurants, service stations and a major hardware store.
There are two schools in the rural municipality, both located in the village of St. Laurent: the French language K-12 École communautaire Aurèle-Lemoine school, and the English language K-12 St. Laurent School. École Aurèle-Lemoine also has a daycare, an essential service for young families.
St. Laurent has a bilingual community health office and a seniors residence, and offers an array of recreational activities for families. The Oak Point Community Club is very active, with a robust program. The St. Laurent Arena has a minor hockey program for boys and girls who can’t wait for a chance to skate with the Lake Monsters. The Lakeside Phantoms senior hockey team attracts more experienced players. The St. Laurent Recreation Centre offers a variety of activities for families in French and English. During the summer, baseball becomes the favourite sport of many St. Laurent residents, who play on the rec centre field.
For more information, visit: www.stlaurentmb.ca