Lac Sainte-Anne, the miraculous lake


Père Joseph Lestanc

The Sainte-Anne mission, located 75 km west of Edmonton, Alberta, was founded in 1843 by Father Joseph Bourassa and Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault. In 1853, Father Albert Lacombe arrived and made his novitiate there 1855-1856 under the direction of Father René Rémas, appointed in 1855. Father Célestin-Marie Frain and Father Jean-Marie Caer both worked there, the first in 1857 in 1860 and from 1860 to 1865. The latter enlarged the chapel and built a convent and a school entrusted to the Sisters of Charity of Montreal in 1858-1859. The mission was attended by approximately 800 Métis and Cree Indians from the Prairies. From 1855 to 1865, Father Tissot, a missionary in Lac-la-Biche, came to teach them how to make lime and build houses.

    In 1887, however, the Sainte-Anne mission was almost shut off. It was then that Father Lestanc, a Breton priest, went to the sanctuary of Sainte-Anne-d’Auray, in Brittany, in France, and he knew then by divine inspiration that he should not close the mission, but rather build a shrine in honor of Jesus’ grandmother, and create a place where pilgrims could come and receive spiritual help. In 1889, once he was back in Alberta, the priest decided to organize a pilgrimage in the mission. Shortly after, some people obtained spiritual and physical healings, particularly in contact with Lac-Sainte-Anne which is right next to it. Since then, every year, the local Bishop blesses the lake.