Our next stop on the heartland tour is Morinville.

Morinville was settled in the late 1800s by Jean-Baptiste Morin, a catholic priest and missionary, who brought with him several French settlers. The arrival of the railway in 1905 brought more settlers into the area, and in 1911 Morinville was incorporated as a town.

"In 1891, Father Morin came from Quebec, hence the name Morinville," explained Eddie Bulger, a longtime and active resident of Morinville. He added the Catholic church played a significant role in the town's beginnings, pointing to the St. Jean Baptiste Parish, which is now formally recognized as a historical site.

"That church was built with nothing but sweat, blood and tears of the people that were here. There wasn't a whole lot of money to go around, they had just migrated here from Quebec and that was a tough trip in those days to begin with, so that's very cool. This town was not only founded on volunteerism, but it still has it today."

Today, Morinville has a population of 10,578, seeing a nearly seven per cent increase between 2016 and 2020.

"You do know a lot of people," Bugler said while describing how the town has grown. "Even the newer people that come in, you get to know them through your kid's activities, or through the school, or through other committees and whatnot."

Councillor and current deputy mayor Nicole Boutestein said the town had grown "leaps and bounds" both residentially and commercially since moving to the area as a child 44 years ago.

"It's still the camaraderie of knowing every neighbour around you," said Bouestien. "Wherever you go in town, you're always running into someone that you know. It's not a five-minute trip to get groceries; it's a 20-minute trip to get groceries."

The town has many amenities, including the brand new Morinville Leisure Centre, the AAA Arena Morinville (formerly known as the Ray McDonald Arena), a skateboard park, a splash park and more. It is also home to Champion Petfoods, a large speciality pet food manufacturer, which is one of the town's largest businesses.