The mid 1800’s was an active
time for catholic missionaries intent on converting native
people in the west.
As historian Merrily Aubrey notes, one of the first missions in
Alberta was established on a large lake about 60 kilometers west
of Edmonton. It became known as Lac Ste Anne.
The name dates from about 1844 when Father Jean Baptist Thibeau,
one of the oblates, founded one of the first catholic missions
on the western prairies here.
Ste Ann was the mother of Mary, mother of Christ. Since early
Christians times, churches have been dedicated in her honor. And
the feast of Ste Anne, July 26th, was fixed throughout the
church by Pope Gregory the Third in 1584.
And this is important because it’s around July 26th every year
that thousands of Catholics, mostly of aboriginal descent, make
an pilgrimage to the holy and many believe healing waters of the
There have been some miracles attributed to that area.
However, the legendary powers of this lake in central Alberta
predate the arrival of the missionaries.
This is evident form the way other people have referred to the
lake through the ages.
David Thompson the map maker who came through, the mapmaker who
came through the area at the turn of the 19th century, recorded
the name. Manitu Lake.
Carenegie, the earl of southesk noted in his diary on Aug 19 of
1860, Indians call it Great Spirit Lake. It’s also known by the
name of Gods Lake.
Other names that have been recorded for it include, Spirit,
Devils, and Divine and I guess it depends on whose side you’re
on. A post office was opended at Lac Ste Anne in 1903.
And by 1917 another one opened on the south east shore.
That’s where the Canadian Northern Railway placed a train
station, "Alberta Beach".