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Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years

Social Gatherings

Religious Gatherings

Lac Ste. Anne - Each year up to 40,000 people travel to the Lac Ste. Anne Mission, near Edmonton, to celebrate the feast of Saint Anne on July 26. Some are Catholic; others are not. Most are Aboriginal people from western North America. They arrive on foot, by airplane, in cars and buses to camp in tipis, tents and recreational vehicles on the shores of Lac Ste Anne.

Pilgrims praying in the reeds at Lac Ste. Anne, Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, photograph by Colin Levangie, Métis
Canadian Museum of Civilization, S2002-4623, CD2003-0866

Pilgrims praying - S2002-4623 - CD2003-0866

Called "Lake of the Spirit," Lac Ste. Anne was a sacred site long before the missionaries arrived. People travelled long distances each summer to trade and socialize there. Father Thibault, OMI, named the lake after Saint Anne in 1843, soon after setting up the first Catholic Mission in Alberta.

In legend, the pilgrimage began after a year of severe drought. People from the surrounding Aboriginal community gathered at the mission to pray to Saint Anne for rain. It poured and the pilgrimage was born.

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