Petit Canada area, was first used in the 1700’s by explorers, adventurers, and missionaries as a “camp on the trail” branching off the King’s Highway (later called Bloomsdale) which led to the mines at Mine-a-Breton and Old Mines in what is now Washington County. Settlers followed and were visited infrequently by missionaries who celebrated Mass in the home of some immigrants. These transient missionaries administered sacraments to the predominantly French-Canadian settlers.
Before 1820 a small chapel was built, possibly on land claimed by one of the Aubuchon families. In 1828 a new “chapel” dedicated to St. Anne, was erected and blessed as a permanent parish by Bishop Rosati. Little Canada was granted a United States Post Office on June 29, 1857. Thenceforth, this area was called French Village. Twenty years later Father John Anselm became the first resident pastor. At this time St. Anne was one of only 48 parishes in the entire state and served 525 members.
On June 4,1871 the cornerstone of the present rock structure was laid by Lazarist Father T.M. Donagnoe. On November 9, 1874 St. Anne Church was completed and blessed by Vicar-General Muehlseipen. Around 1880 the population in the French Village area began to decline. St. Anne became a mission parish of Bonne Terre, Bloomsdale, then Lawrenceton. The church steeple was struck by lightning on Thursday, September 11, 1919. The interior was destroyed – including records in the church. Only the masonry walls were left standing. During rebuilding, services for St. Anne members were conducted in the hall above the AuBuchon Store in French Village.
The area was once a slave area and research turned up the names of several who were baptized with the name of their owners. One, George Washington Brooks died at the age of 84 on January 14, 1937 and is buried in St. Anne cemetery.
In 1957 and the next several years saw changes to St. Anne church. The old-fashioned, antique, pump organ gave way to an electric organ. The Shrine of St. Anne, donated by the Dr. Martin Glaser family, was erected in front of the church. In May 1964, Rev. Homer J. Noser, pastor received a letter from the Archbishop of St. Louis stating that St. Anne would become a mission of St. Joseph Parish, Bonne Terre, which area had previously been a mission of St. Anne, French Village about a century before this appointment.
St. Anne parish has 65 registered families. St. Anne is a vibrant rural parish. In 1991 they established their own Parish Council. They welcome anyone and everyone to worship with them in their beautiful, historic church.