Following ordination, he was sent west to Pembina, North Dakota, where he worked from 1849 to 1851. In 1851 he returned briefly to Quebec, where he secured a position as a curate in the town Berthier.
Despite his good relations with the natives, Father Lacombe had, by 1861, been unsuccessful in persuading the Cree near Lac Ste. Anne to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. He therefore sought out a new mission site more suitable for agriculture, and in 1861 a settlement was established along the Sturgeon River at Saint Albert, Alberta.
In 1864 he was tasked with evangelizing the Plains Indians, and from 1865 to 1872, he travelled extensively throughout the prairies. It was during this time that he brokered a peace between the Cree and the Blackfoot. In 1872 Lacombe was sent to Fort Garry (modern Winnipeg, Manitoba) to promote the colonization of Manitoba, and to this end travelled throughout eastern Canada and the United States. He became the Vicar of Saint Boniface, Manitoba in 1879. It was during this period that he began his association with the Canadian Pacific Railway and extended his ministry to the navvies working on the right-of-way.
In 1880, he relocated to Calgary. When the CPR was preparing to lay track through Blackfoot territory against their wishes, he negotiated an agreement with the Blackfoot leader Crowfoot that allowed the railway to pass through Blackfoot land. Crowfoot was famously given a lifetime pass to travel on the railway by CPR president William Van Horne, as was Lacombe. When the North-West Rebellion erupted in 1885, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald enlisted Father Lacombe's assistance in assuring the neutrality of the Plains Indians. Although braves commanded by Poundmaker and Big Bear were involved in the fighting, Crowfoot, believing the rebellion to be a lost cause, kept his warriors out of the conflict.
Association d'etudes et de recherches oblates, Dictionnaire historique des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculee, vol. II : Hors de France au temps du Fondateur.(Book review)
Jan 01, 2010; Association d'etudes et de recherches oblates, Dictionnaire historique des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculee, vol. II :...