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Lac Ste Anne

The founder of the community of Lac St. Anne was a Métis hunter, Gabriel Dumont, son of Jean-Baptiste Dumont, a French-Canadian fur trade voyageur with the North West Company (NWC).1 After the consolidation of the two companies, Dumont was fortunate to find permanent work with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in the area around Fort Edmonton. His three sons were not so lucky and took up buffalo hunting on the Prairies to make a living.

Lac Ste. Anne, AB - View of Mission - From a painting of the early mission showing the construction of Rev. Thibault. Probably painted by Miss Onésime Dorval. (OB1119 - Oblate Collection at the PAA)Due to the danger of possible attacks by Aboriginals, it was necessary to travel in large groups. Gabriel Dumont travelled with approximately 200 followers. He had chosen to settle near a lake northwest of Fort Edmonton, which was known to the Cree as Manito Sakahigan, which translates into Spirit Lake, but certain Caucasians translated it as Devil’s Lake.2 When Abbé Jean-Baptiste Thibault established the mission in 1844, he renamed it Lac St. Anne, in honour of his holy patron.

The idea behind establishing a mission at the lake was to isolate the Métis from the Caucasians at Fort Edmonton, as the clergy considered the latter to be a bad influence. The Grey Nuns arrived in 1859 to assist the Oblates, but the mission was too isolated and the marshy and wooded conditions were susceptible to early frosts. As a result, a new mission was established at St. Albert in 1861. The old mission at Lac St. Anne continued on, but with less ambitious plans than at its outset.


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