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Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage National Historic Site of Canada

Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/03/05

View of the main entrance to the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage National Historic Site of Canada, 1994.; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
General View
View of the gazebo at Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, showing the unimpeded viewscapes of the lake and the surrounding area, 1994.; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
General view
View of the pilgrim facilities at Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage National Historic Site of Canada, 1994.; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
General view

Other Name(s)

Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage National Historic Site of Canada
Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage
Pèlerinage du lac Ste. Anne
Manitou Sakahigan
Manitou Sakahigan
Lake Manitou
Lake Manitou
Lake of the Spirit
Lake of the Spirit
Wakãmne (God’s Lake)
Wakãmne (God’s Lake)
Devil’s Lake
Devil’s Lake

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/07/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage National Historic Site of Canada is located on the shore of Lac Ste. Anne, a broad, shallow lake in north-central Alberta. The pilgrimage site is a flat piece of land that extends down to the shores of the lake. The site consists of a landscape and a portion of a lake. On the site is a small church, a rectory, and a confessional building, Stations of the Cross, a cemetery and pilgrim facilities including a store, food concession stands, and washroom and shower buildings. On the right side, nearer the lake is the large, pentagonal-shaped Saint Anne shrine with roof and open sides, while at the lakes edge stands a gazebo where the blessing of the lake takes place during the pilgrimage. Trees and shrubs border the eastern boundary. Official recognition refers to the shore-site, which includes a contiguous, semi-circular section of lake.

Heritage Value

Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage was designated a national historic site of Canada because:
- as early as 1889, Indigenous people, including Cree, Dene, Blackfoot and Métis, have been coming to Lac Ste. Anne to celebrate the Feast of Saint Anne. Saint Anne embodies, for many Indigenous people, the traditional importance of the grandmother figure;
- for the Indigenous people of Western and Northwestern Canada, it is an important place of social, cultural and spiritual rejuvenation, which are important aspects of the traditional summer gathering.

Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, used by Indigenous peoples in the pre-contact period, became a pilgrimage site in 1889, managed by the Missionary Oblates of Grandin Province. The pilgrimage continues on an annual basis during the week of July 26th. People making the pilgrimage come from across North America to step into the holy waters and be blessed by a priest in the name of Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 1971, July 2003.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the location on the shore of the lake in its defined extent including an adjacent 100 metre half circle of Lac Ste. Anne itself;
- the physical elements which constitute the site and which have spiritual significance including the cleared ground of the site, the lake, and the shoreline fronting the site;
- the church, the rectory, the confessional building, gazebo, the Stations of the Cross, the cemetery with markers in their found locations, and the pilgrim facilities with respect to their being elements which support the site’s continued use as an aboriginal spiritual gathering place;
- the unimpeded viewscapes of the lake and the surrounding area;
- the continued use of the site by the Cree, Blackfoot and Dene First Nations and the Métis peoples, particularly for the annual celebration of Saint Anne;
- potential archaeological sites associated with pre-contact and post-contact use.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1889/01/01 to 1889/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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