Gwen Lepage isn’t just Sarilia’s property developer. She and her husband, Ronn, have made Sarilia their home. You could easily add several more titles to her name – community builder, Pilates teacher and gardener, to name just a few. We sat down recently to chat about Gwen’s life at Sarilia, how she builds community and her transition from city living to making a home and building a village in the river valley.
What do you like best about life at Sarilia?
What I like best is how I feel living here. I have hopped around different subdivisions in Saskatoon for about 40 years but I can easily say that I am the happiest I have ever been at Sarilia. I’ve always had a craving for space, solitude and calmness. My life at Sarilia strikes a good balance between satisfying that craving as well as the pleasure that comes from living in a place where I feel I belong. I like that everyone knows everyone in the village and that we are good neighbours and friends. I feel safe.
I enjoyed living in city but I didn’t have that same sense of “being home.” I also like being close to nature even though my kids say I’m getting a little koo-koo pants because I talk about the two eagles we have, the baby fawns that stroll through our yard, the bunnies that live at the end our lane and the coyotes that howl at night. Our lifestyle is more relaxed now and I like that we have way more time to spend with family and friends.
If you weren’t a developer and community builder, what would you be doing?
I would most likely be an interior designer. I like the process of envisioning, planning and breathing life into a space that is both reflective of someone’s personality and lifestyle, as well as being functional.
You used to live in Saskatoon. What was the transition like when you moved from the city to the river valley?
I was surprised that it took me about six months to settle in. At first, I found myself driving back into the city every day – trying to keep on living my old lifestyle on Broadway. My husband calls me his “go-back girl” because I dislike change. I liked going to my favorite coffee shop on Broadway and that they knew how I liked my coffee. I liked walking over to Las Palapas for fish tacos on Tuesday, sitting on the deck and drinking wine with friends. I liked biking everywhere. I missed the things I used to do in the city.
After six months, I started to remember who I was and what I wanted. I grew up on an acreage in rural Saskatchewan and that lifestyle slowly began to unfold again. Now, I have a huge patch in the community garden, I make my own salsa from the garden and we sit on our own deck overlooking the river, eating nachos and drinking wine with our friends. My husband and I drink our coffee in the screen porch so we can watch the wildlife. I walk everywhere. I play guitar with my friends, watch some pretty amazing sunsets and am a big fan of stargazing. I guess that’s why we call it a lifestyle change because your life and the things you do on a daily basis are different. These days, I schedule all my appointments together so I only have to go into the city twice a week – driving in the city stresses me out!
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
I am a certified Pilates trainer and I love teaching. I teach two free classes a week to any Sarilia resident that has willingness and desire to learn. We do Pilates in my living room, on the deck and down at our beach. I am learning to play guitar, which has been a goal of mine for a long time. I enjoy a good read and of course, gardening with the Sarilia ladies.
Sarilia is well known for its sense of community. Can you tell us how you’ve built such a strong sense of community?
I think it comes from my desire to make or build something authentic and the ability to attract like-minded people to our community, most of whom have a rural background as well. I am blessed to have so many residents who are what I call “the village-builders.” They give freely of their time and talent to build decks, river trails, and gardens. Whatever we need, they find it, give it or build it. Life in the river valley is good.