By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
The parish community of Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île (today Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue) was founded in 1703. It is said that around 1712 the local parish priest, René-Charles de Breslay, got caught in a heavy snowstorm. He fell from his horse, broke his leg and lost his horse. Father de Breslay was allegedly saved through the intervention of Saint Anne. In 1714, he built a mission chapel dedicated to her at the most western point of the Island of Montreal, which was used for worshipuntil a larger church was needed for the growing Catholic community. Construction began in 1853, under the supervision of Father Louis-Joseph Huot. Construction of the new church was partly funded by monies paid for sections of cemetery land bought by the Grand Trunk Railway. The Neo-Gothic style church was completed in 1856, and consacrated in January of 1857 by Msgr. Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal.
In 1864 a vault was commisioned by Georges Octave-Fidèle Chevrefils, who was pastor of Saint Anne Church from 1858 until his death in 1902. The interior was designed by Architect Adolphe Lévesque who also added an extension to the church and built a presbytery. In 1875 architect Henri-Maurice Perrault was commissioned to redesign the interior of the church.
In 1882, the church was enlarged, and in 1890 a new rectory was built by Henri-Maurice Perrault. At the same time, the old mission chapel was demolished and replaced by the Convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Today this building is a community center and residence for the elderly.
In the early 20th century the church interior was renovated, and additional changes made in 1936 gave a whole new style to the interior decoration and several outdoor elements like the bell tower, roof and windows. The work was done by architect René Rodolphe Tourville. The new interior included large parabolic arches and a modern decor according new architectural ideas of Paul Louis Denis Bellot, a French born architect and Benedictine monk, who rejected copying of old styles such as neo-gothic and neo-romanesque styles. The interior has not changed since then,except the adding of new marble liturgical furnishings and new pews in the mid 1960s. In 1950 a Casavant organ was installed to replace an organ built by the Samuel R. Warren Company of Montréal.
The Church of Saint Anne is located at 1 de l’Église, facing the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site.