Our founder, Abbé Elzéar DeLamarre, established Ermitage Saint-Antoine and the community of sisters named the Antonian Sisters of Mary (Antoniennes de Marie). He was ordained as a priest on June 29, 1883, and was sent to Rome to finish his studies. He returned with a doctorate in theology. Based on his memoirs, we have collected a number of quotations that we would like to share with you. On this page, you will discover his story.
Many years before colonisation was permitted in the Saguenay in 1842, the government sent land surveyors around the Lac-Saint-Jean region. One of them was Joseph Bouchette. He gave his name to the southern lake which the Sanctuary dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua and Our Lady of Lourdes would make famous. During a stay in Rome, Abbé DeLamarre made a pilgrimage that would change his life forever: he travelled to Padua. There, he became friends with Canon Antoine-Marie Locattelli, who dedicated his life in Italy to making a strong case for devotion to the Saint of Padua. At the beginning of 1900, Abbé DeLamarre returned to Europe to visit the many sites of devotion to Saint Anthony. For him, the year 1904 would one of the most important years of his life, as it was the year that he founded a community of sisters first known as the Sisters of Saint Anthony. Later on, they would take the name the “Antonian Sisters of Mary.”
“I never wanted to choose the roads that opened up before me. I took the ones where God was leading me.” (quotation from Abbé Elzéar DeLamarre)
Charles DeLamarre, the older brother of Abbé DeLamarre and father of the famous strong man Victor DeLamarre, asked his brother, in 1903, to buy him a piece of land on the shores of Lake Ouiatchouan, the northern part of Lake Bouchette. The following spring, he started his family, which was to be comprised of nine children.
Abbé Elzéar DeLamarre, as rector of the Chicoutimi Senior Seminary, used to take his days off to visit his brother Charles in Lac-Bouchette. He loved this wonderful place where he could enjoy the silence and beauty of nature. In 1906, he decided to buy a large parcel of land on the other side of his brother’s house.
It was there that he built his summer cottage, surrounded by woodlands and far from neighbors. Arriving in Lac-Bouchette by train, he was only a few steps away from Charles’ house and simply had to cross the lake to get home. He did this by rowboat, with food and building materials. The following year, in 1907, Abbé DeLamarre received help to clear and cultivate a bit of ground. His cottage, which he called the Hermitage (L’Ermitage), was erected a year later and could accommodate 4 to 5 visitors. Attached to it, Abbé DeLamarre constructed a small 12’x16’ chapel.