Justice reserves arsonists’ pleas

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Two High Prairie men charged in connection with a fire that damaged an historic Catholic Church at Grouard got a break from the presiding judge in High Prairie Court of Justie May 29.

Neither Gerald Kenneth Capot. 50, nor Kenneth Randy Ferguson, 56, attened court prompting Justice S.P. Hinkley to put the matter over to June 5 for election and plea.

Capot and Ferguson are both charged with arson, and break and enter to commit theft after fire heavily damaged the St. Bernard Mission Church on May 22.

An RCMP news release cited police responded to a report of a fire at the 121-year-old building around 3:30 p.m.

“Preliminary investigation indicates it is suspicious in nature,” said Const. Julie-Ann Strilaiff, Media Relations Officer, Peace Regional RCMP.

Capot and Ferguson were charged May 23.

Big Lakes County Fires Services responded to the call with crews from Grouard, Enilda and Joussard. High Prairie Fire Department also responded.

The church contained many historical and unique items, including paintings by the first missionary bishop of the region, Bishop Emile Grouard.

It has been described as a treasure trove of ecclesiastic objects, wood working, detailed hand stenciling and original artwork.

Bishop Grouard was a French Catholic missionary who lived and worked in northern Alberta. During his time, he built three churches of similar styles.

The church at Grouard was completed in 1902 and was a shining example of Bishop Grouard’s dedication to God, his love of nature and respect for the local people.

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