Al and Annette are two of Sarilia’s longest residents, having moved to the river valley community over seven years ago to experience what Al calls “pre-retirement.” We chatted with them to get a glimpse of what that lifestyle transition looks like.
What made you decide to move from Dalmeny to Sarilia?
Annette: The beauty of the river valley and the new community that was being developed here.
Al: I thought we should try to experience pre-retirement.
How does living at Sarilia contrast with city living?
Annette: We really like the socializing and being able to know our neighbours. People look out for one another: they watch out for your property, and do nice things for each other here.
What would both of you say are your favourite aspects of living at Sarilia?
Al: My favourite aspect is just being near the outdoors without having to go far—compared to the city.
Annette: You don’t have to drive anywhere to go to a park—it’s right outside your door. You’re surrounded by nature and wildlife.
Al: The other aspect I like about Sarilia is, some years ago when we were looking at recreational properties elsewhere, prices were starting to skyrocket. We couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on a property at the lake, maintaining that, and maintaining another house. But here, it’s kind of like being at the lake. It’s the same sort of environment but without the expense and the driving and all the rest that comes along with lake property.
What are your favourite winter activities at Sarilia?
Al: We like to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When we have decent snow, our neighbour Dale cuts ski trails down to the river.
Annette: There are nice trails down by the river and we hike them a lot. It’s fun to see all the changes that are happening all the time—the change of the colours with the seasons, the migration of the birds.
What are you favourite summer activities?
Annette: Gardening in the summertime is fun. We always see some of our neighbours at the garden—we chat and play music. There’s a nice social aspect to it that I really enjoy.
We also like watching the skyline at night—we can still see a faint light on the horizon in the evening and the stars shine brighter. Al has a telescope and he likes to gaze at the sky—picking out different clusters and planets.
Al: We also try to get out in the canoe a couple of times in the summer.
Annette: Canoeing from Borden Bridge to Sarilia is a lot of fun. It takes 2-3 hours usually—more if you want to sit and have a picnic on the side of the river.
Al: I try to get out on my bike. Once you get down in the river valley you can bike the trails that are down around the river easily enough.
Annette: Biking down a country road is kind of fun—there’s not a lot of traffic that you have to worry about.
Can you tell me about curling in Langham?
Annette: Al’s been curling in Langham a little bit longer than I have, but the last couple of years we’ve both been curling.
Al: They’ve got a new rink, and a pretty good club there.
Annette: It’s a really nice facility. Al and I curl there in the mixed league, and when we can, we’ll take in a bonspiel. Even for those who don’t curl, if they like watching curling there’s an opportunity for people just to come and have a beer and watch curling because they have a nice little bar. We’ve enjoyed socializing with people from Langham at the rink.
You both take a lot of beautiful photos around Sarilia. What inspires you?
Annette: It’s just the natural greenery and the colours out here that we really enjoy. Especially in the springtime, the leaves are starting to pop out of the trees and the blue birds are coming back.
Al: Because we’re at the river, you get migratory birds. You see them coming and going all the time. Here we might see a few more unusual birds because there are less people than in the city. In our book, we write down every spring and fall what we see, and I can go look in my book and I can say, “yeah, we saw that last year, and the year before.” It’s almost always within plus or minus a week.
Annette: And there’s a lot of deer around here as well, so we know where they are and what time of day to watch out for them.