In 1906, in search of a place to rest and assess his situation, Abbé DeLamarre came to Lac-Bouchette where his brother Charles already resided.
The environment helped Abbé DeLamarre meditate and pray. At the time he felt the need to create a peaceful place for himself, far from where he had been doing ministry work for a long time. For the last few months, he had been put to the test in many ways, and needed to replenish his energy. That is why he bought the lands in front of his brother's. He was then 52 years old.
Beginning in 1907, Abbé DeLamarre had a white and red house built with a small chapel that he named Hermitage San Tonio. The name Hermitage was given by the people from the region. Their thinking was that Abbé DeLamarre lived like a hermit, so it was fitting.
When he began building on the site, Abbé DeLamarre wanted to live like a hermit and take advantage of the solitude and the beauty of nature. What's more, he proposed the place to his fellow priests of the diocese.
In fact, it was his family members, brothers, nephews (among them the strongman Victor DeLamarre) and nieces who helped him to build and maintain the Hermitage.
In 1908, the small chapel is blessed and officially dedicated to Saint Anthony.
After that, Abbé DeLamarre invited a friend of his, the famous painter Charles Huot, to come visit him at his hermitage. For ten years, the painter came during summertime and painted frescos and medallions about Saint Anthony's life.
This little chapel is adorned with a tiny bell tower and before he celebrated mass, Abbé DeLamarre used to ring the bells. That attracted the attention of the people from Lac-Bouchette and they began crossing Lake Ouiatchouan to hear him sing the mass.
Time went by and, in 1912, our friend was walking on a little trail he made up towards the north. Three to four acres from the Hermitage, he saw through the birches a grotto that reminded him of the one in Lourdes where he went in 1900. He then saw it as a sign given by the Blessed Mother of God. Abbé DeLamarre began to think this place could become a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
With that in mind and heart, he installed in the rock of the grotto a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and came here every day to pray. Informed of this discovery, the people from Lac-Bouchette joined him in his devotion and prayed at the grotto.
The real first pilgrimage at the Hermitage dates back to 1915.
About 20 teenagers from the Saint-Louis parish of Chambord, after chanting the Month of Mary, arrived by train to venerate the Blessed Mother.
A year after, the grotto was blessed and recognized as a pilgrimage site.
It is in 1918 that Mister DeLamarre ordered a Calvary from the sculptor Louis Jobin.
It was installed in 1922-23. The year after, Charles Huot painted his last work on this site. This Calvary is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Québec because of the number of figures (6) and their expression.
Meanwhile, in 1920, Abbé DeLamarre installed a Way of the Cross in the mountains. The main characteristic of it is the Innus' traits of the figures. They recall the First Nations of the region.
Abbé Elzéar DeLamarre passed away in April 1925.
It is after that the Capuchins became owners and keepers of the site and his works, according to his wishes. He is buried under the San Tonio chapel.
Wishing to perpetuate the works of Abbé DeLamarre, the Capuchins erected the Scala Santa, the Holy Stairs, for which the founder of theHermitage already had the materials.
Between 1925 and 1948, the Capuchin fathers came to Lac-Bouchette during the summer and stayed in Abbé DeLamarre’s cottage. It is in 1948 that the convent was built, and blessed the year after when they entered in it to live. After that they had the Marian Chapel erected and the outdoor chapel built up.
The wooden statue of Saint Anthony above the devotional lights in the Marian Chapel comes from Italy. It was placed there in 1957. In the back of it you can see some stained glass, the work of fr. Guy Bruneau, a capuchin brother. In 1970 he completed all of the stained glass work now present in the chapel.
In 2007, the Hermitage received a great gift for its centenary. The Notre-Dame-de-Pitié parish of Québec City closed its doors and gave their 18 stops pipe organ. It was installed and refurbished in the Marian Chapel in 2008.
In September 2008, a new bell tower was added to the Marian Chapel.
Since then, 4 bells call the pilgrims to prayers, given by the Saint-Joachim parish of Chicoutimi.
The wooden altar of the Marian Chapel was replaced in 2010 with a granite one.
It was made by a regional company: les granites Moreau, from Chicoutimi. They are the same company that made the rosary that you find beside the Chapel and that Pope John Paul II blessed in 1984.
In 2008, the 25 meter wooden observation tower dedicated to Saint Anthony was erected on one of the two hills where the shrine is located. During this same year the hermit cottages and family cottages were built.
Before Easter 2011, a new Crucifix was installed in the Marian Chapel. It is a masterpiece from the architect Blaise Marchand. This artist also made the two bas reliefs that you can see on each side of the crucifix. Before being in Lac-Bouchette, these works of art were in Cacouna, at the former house of the Capuchins.
Today after more than 100 years of existence, Saint Anthony's Hermitage has become the collaborative achievement of a large family comprised of capuchins and lay people. Together they made sure that this magnificent place, born out of the faith of a diocesan priest and inspired by Saint Anthony and the Virgin Mary, was one of God's known addresses.