North

Whitehorse's new school has a name — Paul-Émile Mercier Secondary School

Whitehorse's new French-language school has been named after Paul-Émile Mercier, an engineer who lived and worked in Yukon in the early 1900s.

Paul-Émile Mercier was an engineer who lived and worked in Yukon in the early 1900s

Yukon's new French language school now has a name — Paul-Émile Mercier Secondary School Community Centre, or CSSC Mercier. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Whitehorse's new French language school has a new name — the Paul-Émile Mercier Secondary School Community Centre, or CSSC Mercier.

The name was selected through a competition launched by the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon (CSFY) with the Yukon Francophone community and students from École Émilie-Tremblay and Académie Parhélie.

Paul-Émile Mercier was an engineer who lived and worked in Yukon in the early 1900s. He and his wife, Marie-Louise Taché, were married in Whitehorse in 1901.

Paul-Émile Mercier was an engineer who lived and worked in Yukon in the early 1900s. (Government of Yukon)

Mercier became director of the Department of Public Works in Whitehorse in 1903 and was involved in projects around the territory before later moving to Montreal.

He's also the great-grandfather of Thomas Mulcair, former leader of the federal NDP.

In a statement, Mulcair said his family is honoured by the recognition of Mercier. 

"We are extremely proud of these roots," he said in a statement.

Speaking in French, Jean-Sébastien Blais, president of Yukon's French school board, said Mercier "left his mark in Yukon, being instrumental in elaborating the Yukon rivers waterway."

"And the name is easily pronounceable in French and in English," he said.

The new school in Riverdale has been in the works for years. It's designed to accommodate up to 150 students from Grades 7 to 12.

Construction was originally scheduled to be finished this summer, and students were expected to begin classes there this fall. The COVID-19 pandemic has put those plans up in the air, and the territorial government says the date of entry for students is still being worked out.

The territorial government says the date of entry for students at the new school is still being worked out. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

In-class learning at all Yukon public schools has been suspended for the rest of this school year, with students now doing distance learning from home.

Jeanne Beaudoin, president of the Association franco-yukonnaise, said on Friday that she was happy the new school has a name connected to Yukon francophone history. 

"I'm also happy to see we finally have a secondary school [and] community centre in the territory, something we have pushed for since the 1980s — and it's great to see it materialize," she said.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Mercier and his wife were married in 1903. In fact, they married in 1901.
    May 19, 2020 11:27 AM CT

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