Submitted by Ste-Anne’s Church Centennial Celebration Committee
Father Dréau took advantage of the feast of St. John-the-Baptist in July 1918 to collect the money needed for the purchase of a bell. The bell was ordered from Troy, New York and on it was inscribed in French:
To Bishop Grouard, o.m.i., Bishop of Debora, as Apostolic Vicar of the diocese of Athabaska
To Bishop Joussard, o.m.i., Coadjutator
To the Reverend Father C. Falher, o.m.i. Vicar-General
To the Reverend Father G. M. Dreau, o.m.i. Parish priest
I am known as ANNE MARIE—I was offered by the parishioners to the St. Anne church of Falher in the year 1918.
In the meantime, in order to emphasize the generosity of the parishioners as well as the growth of its population, Bishop Grouard wanted to elevate the status of the St. Jean Baptiste mission to that of a parish. In the vast expanse of his vicariate, there was another Saint John the Baptist Mission, that of Fort McMurray,so Bishop Grouard dedicated the new parish under the patronage and incumbency of St. Anne. The official papers were drawn up on June 14, 1917.
At the time, the hamlet of Falher became the central place once it moved three miles north in order to be on the rail line. It was on December 21, 1919 that the bell was finally installed in the new church under construction, approximately where the shopping centre is today, facing North.
The bell was installed within the brick structure of the walls of the church on the right side at the back. It was operated with two cables: one to shake the bell and the other to activate the hammer on the side of the bell. It weighed an impressive 635 pounds by itself and 950 pounds with its supports.
When the church burnt down in 1962, the bell was not affected and was preserved in an old garage belonging to the parish. The bell as it stands today in the bell tower next to the existing church is the same one that rang for 40 years except that the wheel and the hammer were replaced so that it could be activated by a motor controlled by a console inside the church sacristy. During many years, the bell rang at noon for the Angelus, then at 6:00 every evening, as well every Sunday to call the faithful before Masses and on weekdays for special celebrations and for funerals. The statue of Our Lady of the Rosary is now standing below the bell on the tower. In the past, it was located in front of the old rectory South of the church.
The 100th anniversary of the Falher St. Anne Parish will be celebrated on Sunday June 18th, 2017.
This will be on the same weekend as the Honey Festival 25th Anniversary.