The first pioneers settled in Hanmer Township in 1898 and the first families were French-speaking Catholics. Initially, Jesuit missionaries came to celebrate mass once a month but soon the mission reported to Saint-Joseph parish in Chelmsford, and then to Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire in Blezard.
In 1902, Mr. Louis Denis donated land to build a church and open a cemetery in Hanmer. The rectory was built within the year and in 1905, the mission separated from the parish in Blezard to become Saint-Jacques parish. Father J.A. Roy, the first priest of the parish, had a modest chapel built behind the rectory. This building also served as a classroom for children of the parish.
The years that followed saw the formation of numerous parish organizations including Dames de Sainte-Anne, Ligue du Sacré-Coeur, Cercle Lacordaire, Chevaliers de Colomb, Fédération des femmes canadiennes-françaises, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides.
In 1916, the parish, directed by Father Ernest Nayl, undertook to build a church. The basement was consecrated by Mgr. Scollard that same year. However, the two World Wars and the Great Depression delayed completion of the project. After waiting 44 years to celebrate Christmas mass in their new church, the parishioners' dream became a reality on December 25, 1960.
Meanwhile, after several invitations, the Soeurs Grises de la Croix arrived in Hanmer in 1942 to take over the education of the parish children. With only two nuns available, the sisters relied on the assistance of secular teachers to provide additional instruction. The Diocese soon provided the convent which was renovated and enlarged in 1962 to accommodate nine nuns.
The Vatican II Council brought many changes to parish life and the laity became more and more involved at various levels. Over the years, many parish organizations have come and gone while others have managed to adjust to the changing tides. The roles of committees have also shifted as some now handle administrative duties while others focus on liturgy. Today, the parish boasts three choirs, including one made up of adolescents, another of elementary school students and a third comprised of adults, which serve to enliven church services.