In 1889 Robert Telford turned his homestead into a stopping place that soon became know as Telford Place. At the time the area had a total of five settlers. Weekly one could see fur carts, homesteaders, and adventures traveling north to Edmonton and Telford saw the need to accommodate these weary travellers. For a period of time Telford’s was the largest stopping house between Calgary and Edmonton.
Telford became aware of the coming of the Calgary & Edmonton Railroad and moved his establishment to the west end of a lake to be closer to the new railroad station and transformed his stopping place into a hotel that could serve railroad passengers. With the coming of the railroad came the telegraph and a railroad station. Both needed a name and this is when Father Hippolyte Leduc enters the picture.
Father Leduc was born on April 30, 1842 in Évron, France. He began his training and preparation for the priesthood in 1860 and was ordained in Ottawa in 1864. He became a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. After three years of teaching and serving the logging camps along the Gatineau River he left, in 1867, for Canada’s West. He worked first in Manitoba and then moved on to Alberta.
For the following fifty-one years Father Leduc would travel throughout Alberta establishing churches and missions in various communities. As Vicar General of St. Albert he became the main spokesman in the defense of the Catholic Church’s right to have Catholic schools be supported by the government. Father Leduc was also actively involved as a peacemaker during the Metis Rebellion.
It was one of his trips to check on the development of St Benedict’s Church that circumstances would step in and Father Leduc’s name would become the name associated with the area.
This would occur for two reasons. The first was a matter of circumstances and the other is because of whom Father Leduc knew. In 1890 a telegraph office was opened and a local settler, Mr. McKinlay, was appointed to set up the office. One of his responsibilities was to name the office. In the margins of his account book he indicated that he would name the office after the first person to walk in the office. No sooner had he put down his pen than Father Leduc walked in.
A year later there was a need to name a number of railroad terminals that had been built along the Edmonton & Calgary rail line. William Van Horne, the railroad’s general manager approached Father Lacombe and asked him for a list of names that the company could used in naming the various terminals. Among the list was Father Hippolyte Leduc’s. Since the telegraph office and a near by lake already carried his name Van Horne submitted Leduc’s name for the railroad station and the town site that accompanied the station. The Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories, Edgar Dewdney agreed with Van Horne and Leduc replaced Telford Place on the maps. In 1899 Leduc became incorporated as a village.
Telford never worried about what his community was called he was too busy making a living and serving the community he loved as it postmaster, judge, mayor, and MLA.
Father Leduc spent his entire life in the service of the church and the people of Alberta. His prime contribution was to education. He became a member of the Northwest Territories Board of Education and was a school inspector. He successfully worked to convince the government that separate education should be funded by the Northwest Territories and later the new province of Alberta. He also worked with the Gray Nuns and assisted in the establishment of the Misericordia Hospital. In 1918 Father Leduc died at the age of 76.