Sainte-Anne-des-Chenes - Wednesday - November 5, 2003 - by: Lauren McCallum
Sainte-Anne Catholic Church lies in the heart of the community of Sainte-Anne-des-Chenes, Manitoba (Saint Anne of the Oaks) on the banks of the meandering Seine River. It has been called the “Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre of the prairies”, after the Basilica in Quebec, one of the oldest shrines in Canada. The Church grounds are dotted with massive oaks. There exists grotto ruins, an elm tree passageway down to the river which the Redemptorists used for contemplative prayer, an old cemetery with customary unmarked graves, a park, small museum and an old log cabin. The design of the parish follows the river lot system of 1871. This defines Ste. Anne as one of the oldest European settlements of Western Canada. Dawson Trail, the famous settler route uniting eastern and western Canada, runs through the centre of the town of Ste. Anne
As soon as the first chapel was blessed in 1867, pilgrimages began. In one year, the number of faithful was 700, coming by cart, train and foot, from as far away as the United States. A special Canadian National train brought pilgrims from Fort Frances in 1889. By 1924, the number of visitors was 2000. Miraculous cures occurred, including the healing of a broken arm, epilepsy and cancer. A Souvenir Album prepared by Georges Letourneau in 1950 relates the great number of graces granted to the community through prayers to Saint Anne. July 26, being the feast day of Saint Anne, was celebrated with a procession through the street with singing, reciting the rosary, devotion to a relic of Saint Anne and a solemn mass in the specially decorated church.

Sainte-Anne Church is an excellent example of French Canadian religious architecture and is worthy of recognition. It has Romanesque design features. The architect of the church in 1895, was Joseph Senecal, the most important Manitoba figure in designing hospitals, convents, and churches in the west, as well as structures for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Macleod, Alberta. He also designed the original St. Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg, now a Provincial Heritage site. Sainte-Anne church has an elegant, pressed tin silver steeple whose three bells are said to ring out the finest carillon in the west.The building has a brick exterior with fine detailing. It is built in the Red River construction technique and the foundation is of wood and masonry.

In the cemetery, there is the Cross of the Cemetery of the Parish of Ste. Anne, blessed by Fr. Giroux in 1899.It is 20 feet high, having a large crucifix covered by an open cupola. Fr. Giroux, founder of Ste. Anne and several neighboring parishes, is buried here as is the first priest born in Manitoba, Fr. Louis de Gonzague Belanger.

In 1904, a statue of Saint Anne, holding the child Mary, was given to the church from Montreal. It was blessed by Archbishop Langevin of St. Boniface in 1905 and placed in the niche of the facade of the historic building. A second wooden statue of Saint Anne with the child Mary beside her, arrived in 1930. It was created by Mathias Zens of Belgium, the sculptor who had created the same statue for Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, the veneration of which had witnessed hundreds of miracles. The High Altar is graced with this and other sculptures of saints and angels including a high relief of the Last Supper scene. In the chapel of the Tabernacle, the archway is graced with an exact copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous ‘Saint Anne, the Virgin and Child with a Lamb,’ by the artist Gilbert Freynet, originally from Ste. Anne.

In 1948, outstanding Stations of the Cross were added to the church. The designs were copied from the St. Boniface Cathedral, designed by Bouriche and executed by Rouillard of Belgium. The originals are thought of as the most beautiful Stations of the Cross in Canada.

In 1953, Fr. Laplante communicated with Auguste Labouret, the celebrated artist of the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Basillica. As a result, two stained glass windows, copies from the artist, were added to the lateral chapels. Two more stained glass windows adorned the walls of the sanctuary. The beautiful windows depict the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In 1923, a beautiful Casavant pipe organ arrived from Quebec. It is said to have been donated by a Quebec parish.

Paintings on the walls around the sanctuary in the church were created by Leo Mol, a famous Manitoba painter and sculptor. This artist, recipient of the Caritas Award and the Order of Canada award for his numerous works, has sculpted bronze portraits for the last several popes.  The paintings in the church depict the life of Saint Anne, an exemplary mother and educator. The scenes honour Saint Anne’s domestic and family virtues through art.


Would you help us save this beautiful monument? You may send a cheque to us and a receipt will be issued for any

Send cheques to: 
Parish of Ste. Anne

162 Central Avenue
Ste. Anne

donations of $20.00 or over.

God bless you for your support.  Please come and visit us.

Laurel McCallum

Fundraising Committee 

1.  Dictionnaire des Artistes at des Auteurs Francophones de L’Ouest Canadien, Gamila Morcos, 1998
2.  Freynet, Robert; local artist, teacher, and historian; member of the Manitoba Arts Council
3.  Histoire de la Paroisse Sainte-Anne Des Chenes: 1876 - 1976, Comite Historique du Centenaire
4.  Representing Community Identity in the Landscape: The Parish of Ste. Anne, MB., Dominique Clincke, 1977
5.  The Central Arch in the Basilica of St. Anne by Laurent Proulx, C.Ss.B., 1975



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