“Sarilia” is a name that carries historical significance. It’s a variation of the name Savilya Demoska, one of the early settlers on the land where Sarilia Country Estates was developed. Savilya was a Doukhobor and the name means “spirit wrestlers.” It’s an apt description of the 1,500+ Doukhobors who settled along the North Saskatchewan River valley over 100 years ago.
These Russian religious descendants sought harmony, making a new life of peace and contentment for their families. They established villages in the area and farmed their land together.
When Ronn Lepage was a young child, his father, Laurier, often took him to this part of the river valley to spend quality time outdoors together. During these outings, Laurier taught Ronn about the things that truly matter. Things like love for the land, respect for the river, and the importance of a healthy community.
Years later, Ronn realized these childhood experiences with his father had influenced the man he has become. He is passionate about outdoor activities like canoeing, camping, fishing and snowshoeing, and he has passed down his love and passion for the outdoors to his adult children, just like his father did before him.
Today, Ronn and Gwen often walk the land and talk about Laurier. What would he think of the community they’ve created? They think he would appreciate how they’ve worked to preserve and respect the river valley’s ecosystem, and how the peaceful, community-minded philosophy of the “Spirit Wrestlers” is not forgotten.
With warmer spring weather finally here, and a year into the pandemic, we’ve come to understand the importance of having safe, outdoor spaces—like our community garden—to gather together at Sarilia.
Sarilia’s community garden was the result of our community banding together to create a beautiful space for all our residents to enjoy.
So, it was timely that several of our residents banded together in 2020 to create another outdoor community space—a new park that is “attractive and accessible to all residents, their kids and pets,” says Carissa, the Sarilia resident who spearheaded the initiative.
We recently chatted with Carissa, her husband, Joe, and a few other community-minded residents who pitched in to create our new park, which is called The Hollows. We wanted to learn about how it came together, how residents are using the space, and its significance during a year like none of us have ever experienced.
Carissa: I’m a community planner and one day I was looking at the satellite image of the municipal reserve areas at Sarilia. These areas are dedicated to be used for recreation and other publicly accessible uses. The location seemed to be the perfect spot for a walking trail.
What were the next steps to set the plan in motion?
Carissa: In 2019, I approached the Sarilia Community Association (SCA) about the idea of building a trail through the municipal reserve and the opportunity to create a space for some playground equipment. The SCA felt it was a great idea and that was the spark to move forward with The Hollows.
How does the community band together for improvements like this?
Carissa: We simply send a few text messages and people show up—it’s amazing! It’s usually the same folks, but they work well together and enjoy the chance to help build something for the community! I know everyone feels their community has great spirit, but the people here genuinely care for each other and want to help.
Tell me about the community efforts involved in creating The Hollows.
Carissa: My husband, Joe, put in many personal hours carving out the trail and clearing the trees along with help in-kind from the RM. I was simply the supervisor! When it came to installing the playground equipment, the fire pit and the gazebo, the usual suspects in the community showed up to help—there are always those folks in a community who want to help. We are very fortunate we have several individuals and families who enjoy getting involved in positive community projects.
Joe: We cleared paths that follow the contour of the land. I handled a lot of the trail blazing and removal of the dead brush. We created a design for the swings, fire pit and gazebo. We received funding from the RM of Laird for those elements. I also poured a rink, which some of the kids are learning to skate on.
Jordan & Dessa: The park wouldn’t have happened without the awesome volunteers at Sarilia. People sacrificed their time and weekends to make this happen, and we all enjoyed the social aspect of working on it together.
Jade: We were informed when they were planning on building the playground, and if anyone could come and help they were welcome to. Devin went down and helped build the swings and gazebo.
How are Sarilia residents using the park so far?
Carissa: People use the park casually and formally: to walk the meandering trail through the trees, to exercise their dogs, to meet up (in small groups), for the kids to play, and to catch up with neighbours. This winter, Joe hauled several loads of water to create a small rink for the little kids to use—there’s even a hockey net that someone thoughtfully placed there.
One family even left Christmas chocolates out in the park for everyone! It’s amazing how people are using the park, and it makes me happy to see it bring people together—when so many things are trying to keep us apart right now (for good reason, of course!)
Jade & Devin: Every weekend it is full of people coming and going! People are either skating, having a fire, playing on the swings, or just visiting. It’s a great meeting place.
Can you tell me about Halloween in the park last fall?
Carissa: We decorated a “treat trail” that we called The Haunted Hallows and hung treats in the trees for the local kids. It was a big success in a time when everyone was trying to figure out how to safely trick-or-treat.
How is your own family using the park?
Jordan & Dessa: Our favourite part is the ice surface Joe made. We like to go shoot pucks and have a fire.
Jade & Devin: We use the park to get together with other neighbours and have our own family get-togethers. We also used the park for our daughter’s birthday party.
How old are your kids and what do they think of the park?
Jordan & Dessa: They are 5 and 9. They enjoy the park—they like shooting pucks, finding trails to slide down and throwing snowballs at Joe!
Jade & Devin: Our kids are 2 and 4. They LOVE the park and are always asking to go down into “the forest” (that’s what we call it in our house).
What was it like to see the park come to fruition?
Carissa: It makes me so happy to see my neighbours enjoying the space with their kids and dogs—to see them connect with their neighbours and build the community. There’s been birthdays and other informal gatherings since the Hollows was established.
Joe: It’s rewarding, because it brings the community together. We had a good turn out from residents who want to help.
Jade & Devin: It was awesome to see people work together and create something that will be used and appreciated for years to come.
Does the park have more significance now, due to the pandemic?
Carissa: As neighbours, we enjoy each other’s company so much that we miss being able to visit. The Hollows provides people with a way to safely visit outside their homes around the fire pit—it’s really important for some of us to continue to connect and support each other during this time.
Jordan & Dessa: Yes. We went down there on Boxing Day and ran into three other families. On a normal year, that probably wouldn’t have happened. It gave us something to do while we couldn’t spend Christmas with our families.
Jade & Devin: YES! Since getting together outside is more safe, we are using it a lot more for gatherings.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about The Hollows?
Carissa: We’re not finished yet—we still have some other improvements we’d like to make.
Jordan & Dessa: We are hoping to add to the park this summer. Stay tuned!
Wowzers—it is my favourite season! I seriously enjoy autumn—breathing in the crisp, cool air, the trees changing colour to brilliant oranges and reds, a time of looking forward, a fresh start and making changes. It always makes me feel optimistic and energetic. Just thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas just weeks away—there’s so much excitement, planning and family celebrations to look forward to. Also, let us not forget that it is the season for jeans, fun socks, scarves, cozy sweaters and boots.
A few weeks ago, we organized a photo shoot to celebrate harvest in our community garden. Even though we needed to keep our physical distance, it was wonderful to be together again.
I love the expression on Emma’s face when her mom picked a fresh strawberry for her. I love how surprised Huxley was to find yellow beans and a ginormous zucchini, and I loved seeing adult gardeners digging in the dirt, happy with their produce.
Maybe I enjoyed the garden more this year as it offered me a “pause for reflection.” It’s a time of feeling blessed and grateful for good health and well-being and for fellow gardeners and friends who are not only growing vegetables, but also growing a community. That makes my heart happy.
This spring, two of our Sarilia residents, Annette and Al, launched “Project Bluebird,” an initiative focused on building new bird houses in our community to help conserve the species. Five like-minded neighbours also chipped in to help. We recently chatted with Annette to learn more about their endeavors to help and house our feathered friends.
What inspired you and Al to take on this project?
We love spring and watching how everything comes back to life after a long winter. The change in seasons, and especially the colorful changes, brings us joy—especially seeing the pretty bluebirds return each spring. We want to see the bluebirds thrive and we want to ensure they have somewhere to nest in the area where we live.
We saw the old bluebird houses on the fence line and the terrible condition they were in. We thought, “We have wood—we can build new houses.” So, we did. Well, to be honest, Al did. He gets nervous when I use his power tools.
Tell me about your process.
Al and I thought it might be a good idea to ask our neighbours if they wanted to build a birdhouse—mainly to build community. We did a Google search and found a good plan. Al cut the wood and made kits so the houses were easy to put together and we emailed our neighbours to see who was interested. We built five houses, and five of our neighbours built five houses, for a total of 10.
Where did you install the birdhouses?
The Saskatoon Nature Society has some good information on their website about bluebirds. They were out in our area on March 29 and reported seeing them. Their website shows and aerial view of the roads where we have put up new houses.
Have you seen any birds using them so far?
We saw bluebirds on the fence line at the end of March, but we haven’t seen any since. We looked last weekend when we put up some new houses and moved a few houses around. We will keep looking. We know they are here.
Can you tell me about the Bluebird trails? What are they?
The Saskatoon Nature Society has an explanation on their Facebook page. It reads:
“It all began as a conservation program 50 years ago. Native cavity-nesting birds like bluebirds were becoming species at risk due to habitat loss and the introduction of European cavity-nesting birds like the House Sparrow and European Starling. To conserve our native birds, many individuals and organizations set up “Bluebird Trails”. A bluebird trail is a line of nest boxes stretching several kilometers through the countryside. The Saskatoon Young Naturalists have a line of roughly 260 nest boxes running from Langham to Hanley. Our conservation science program involves monitoring each nest box to determine which species of bird is nesting in the box and recording its productivity by counting the number of eggs or young. We also monitor the survivorship of “our birds” through the use of leg bands. We have a permit from Environment Canada to fit the birds with a uniquely numbered leg band. It is our hope the bird may be recaptured someday and we will learn things like where it migrated to in the winter or how old it is. The data we collect is used by a wide variety of scientist studying everything things like pesticides, climate change, and, of course, species recovery. It is a great hands-on nature science program for kids to learn the importance of monitoring biodiversity.”
Do you think the project helped build community spirit at Sarilia?
I hope the project brings the community together. When people drive down the road and see the houses they or their neighbours built, or see the bluebirds, they should feel proud they did something positive to keep their community colorful and connected to nature.
Here at Sarilia, we’re lucky to be surrounded by great shops, services and other amenities in nearby Langham, Borden and Dalmeny. It means we don’t have to drive into Saskatoon for a haircut, a massage, or a dentist appointment, and we don’t need to go far to find a grocery store, greenhouse, restaurant, pharmacy or even a bowling alley. The latest addition to the area is the charming Three Beans Café in Langham. Oh, and did we mention we have a cherry orchard next door?
And in a few years, we’ll be able to add a vibrant new vineyard to that list. Just a short drive from Sarilia, Nadine Ness and her husband Jonathan, have planted over two acres of grapevines, and they plan to plant more each spring until the vineyard covers about 14 acres of their land.
We recently chatted with Nadine to learn more about their plans, and what people can expect to see sprouting up at Ness Vineyards in the coming years.
What kind of grapes are you growing at Ness Vineyards?
They are cold weather varieties—hybrids. A lot of the ones we are growing are the same varieties that they’re growing in Minnesota, so they should handle our winters.
We haven’t had a winter yet though. We’ve been growing some in our backyard in Osler and they’ve been doing really well. We’ve been experimenting with some of them—we’ve got about 1,200 plants now but we’re going to be growing probably 2-4 acres more per year until we get to about 14 acres. We are going to be growing table grapes as well.
What makes this area ideal for growing grapes?
If you look at the acidic level—or the soil pH level—required for growing grapes, we need 6.1-6.7 and if you look at the map of Saskatchewan, there’s only a small portion where you can find that. It starts in the Langham area south of the river and it has that perfect acidity level.
We also needed river water to irrigate because the well water is too basic and has too many minerals. We also needed the downhill slope, because we needed the angle of the sun to be right. The other side of the river wouldn’t have worked.
The other thing is, a lot of the dirt that we’re growing in is sandy and rocky soil, which, for growing anything else is not ideal, but for growing grapes it’s actually the most ideal situation.
We also wanted to be close to Saskatoon because we’re planning on eventually having a wedding venue space that can also be used for corporate events.
What will the venue space look like and when will it be ready?
We want it to be something that can accommodate bigger events because, in Saskatoon, there’s a huge lack of that. Most places can only accommodate 200 people and I would like to accommodate groups up to 300 or 350.
We want it to feel like a castle. It’ll be a lot of stonework and wood beams, with a tower as well. We want it to be theplace to get married around Saskatoon—a higher-end experience. That’s our goal.
We’ll be adding some high-end single bedroom cabins as well. In the winter, it will be an awesome place to go for a romantic getaway, with an ice rink and a real wood fireplace in your cabin—similar to the experience you get when you go to Banff—we want to bring something like that to Saskatchewan.
The venue space will be called Chateau Ness.
Will you live there as well?
We’ve got 222 acres, and we’ll be building our home about half a mile from the venue. I think we’re going with a plantation-style home, but we haven’t finalized our plans yet. We’re working on that now and we plan to start building this fall.
When will the vines be established enough to produce wine?
The winemaking won’t start for 3-4 years. We still have to plant more—with two acres you don’t get that much wine! So, the more we plant, the more it’ll grow each year, but we should have our first harvest in three years. In the meantime, I’m taking classes in viticulture and oenology.
Do you plan to offer wine tastings?
Yes, we’ll probably have a little boutique where you can come and try the wine as well as purchase the wine. We’ve thrown around the idea of having a restaurant but that’s not in our current plans. However, we will have a fully functioning kitchen available for the venue space and have seating available for a restaurant, but that won’t be for awhile if we were to decide to proceed with a restaurant.
How do you envision your operation ten years from now?
In 10 years, I would say we will have a venue space out there and we’ll have cabins as well, and like I said, possibly a seasonal restaurant.
Another thing we may get into is grazing some animals—so possibly some buffalo, but that would be on the second quarter, not the first quarter adjacent to Sarilia.
We might also have a u-pick option at some point for the table grapes, once those are established.
How are the vines doing so far?
We thought they weren’t doing very well, but then we went to Nova Scotia a couple of weeks ago and toured the vineyards there. We learned some tricks and tips on how to get them ready for the winter, and ours are doing just as well if not better than the ones in Nova Scotia.
Tell me about the trip to Nova Scotia. Was it purely for research purposes?
Yes. We toured about 11 vineyards. We also visited some vineyards in New Brunswick because they’re a bit colder climate than Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. It was really neat to see how the vineyards are doing and we got a lot of really good information—we sat down with a lot of the owners. Eventually we’ll be travelling to Minnesota to see the vineyards down there as well.
Q. A lot of people are curious about the vineyard and are interested in having a look. Will you be providing tours in the future?
A. Yes. Once the vines are established, we’ll be providing guided tours. At this early stage, the vines are very delicate, and well-meaning visitors could potentially bring contaminants in with them, which could—unfortunately—harm the plants. It’s a brand new nursery, so we have to protect the biosecurity of the vines until they’re more established. We’re really excited to be able to share our vineyard with visitors once it’s safe to do so. We encourage anyone who is interested in a guided tour to contact us at email@example.com.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your new venture?
It’s a family-owned business. It’s going to be owned by my husband and me, and eventually our kids will be put to work—right now they’re a little too young. We have a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old and a baby on the way.
Interested in the other shops, services and amenities near Sarilia? Check out Borden’s and Langham’s business directories.
Vaughn and Stacey Krywicki moved to Sarilia five years ago this fall. A year after settling in, their family expanded with the birth of their son, Huxley.
Vaughn has a unique perspective on river valley living, given his role as a Realtor, and as a board member of the Sarilia Community Association. We recently chatted with Vaughn to find out what’s new and exciting at Sarilia, the new lot sale ($10,000 off every lot until Sept. 23!), and what kind of lifestyle the river valley offers him and his family.
As both a resident of Sarilia, and a Realtor, what do you see as the main reasons people move to Sarilia?
The people who are have moved to Sarilia recently are a lot of young families that are looking for more space and freedom. A lot of them come from smaller towns or farms and have lived in Saskatoon or even smaller bedroom communities, like Martensville or Warman, and they are looking for something more.
It’s a good opportunity to buy property at Sarilia now to build a new home. Gwen (Sarilia’s developer) and I have put together a plan where every lot has been reduced in price by $10,000 until September 23.
It’s more like pricing from 10 years ago. So, that’s a good opportunity, and builders are also aggressive right now with their pricing.
You’re a member of the Sarilia Community Association. What kind of community improvement projects are underway right now? I’m on the Parks and Rec committee, and we just cut a new trail system this winter with the approval of the RM—we received some funding through the RM to make it happen.
We’re also in the process of building a new playground and an outdoor recreation area for kids and adults. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. That’s something exciting that I’m proud to be part of. And it’s exciting for the community and the residents. We’re looking at estimates for features like park benches, playground equipment and maybe a basketball net and a horseshoe pit—any sort of outdoor recreation. It’s nice because the area is sheltered in the tree belt.
There will continue to be more improvements and interesting things like that in the future.
What kind of person would appreciate the lifestyle that Sarilia offers? Someone who appreciates nature. Someone who doesn’t mind a short commute that they can use to wind down. I know for myself, that living at Sarilia with that short commute—it’s nice to have. Initially it was hard to get used to, because I was used to everything being 10 minutes away—but you can’t even get to everything in 10 minutes in Saskatoon anymore. It’s actually been better for me as it’s forced me to be more efficient with my time and planning.
A lot of people want to know how much it would cost to buy a property and build their home at Sarilia. What do you think is the entry-level price, when you combine the cost of a lot and home construction? Lot prices are coming down, and in my opinion you can have a beautiful home for under $300,000. That’s very affordable for a brand-new house.
I hear you have a family cabin at Candle Lake. Some residents have compared living at Sarilia to spending time at the lake. Do you find any parallels? It certainly has a lot of attributes that are like the lake. You can do all kinds of outdoor activities just like at the cabin—hiking and fishing and that kind of thing.
What kinds of activities do you do as a family at Sarilia? We ride our bikes and walk. Our son is four. He’s a madman, so he’s always running around, doing whatever four-year-olds do.
What’s it like to raise a child at Sarilia? In some ways, it feels a little bit safer. There’s less traffic and you know your neighbours. We know everybody. You look out for each other in that respect. There’s lots of young kids out here too—a lot of young families are moving in.
What are a few of your favourite aspects of living in the river valley? The air is fresher. Just being outside. I’m a big advocate of getting outside. When we were kids we did a lot of that—camping and spending time outdoors and over the years I’ve expanded on that. Being next the river is certainly an attraction. That’s a mainstay for Sarilia. It comes back to that lake lifestyle.
Would you say you appreciate the outdoors during all four seasons at Sarilia?
Yes. You bundle up and get outside during the winter. Our son goes outside every day in the winter, even when it’s minus 40—briefly of course. He enjoys it too. And it helps you sleep well at night.
What kinds of activities do you do out on the river?
I fish quite frequently. It’s a passion of mine. Once every other week I would like to get down there this summer. And I often meet a lot of my friends from the city out here. They’ll come out to Sarilia to meet me, so they’re making a commute to where I am and the fishing is right in my backyard.
I would really like to get out on a canoe this summer. I went on a paddling trip as a novice canoer last summer up at the Churchill River and I kind of got hooked on that. I’d like to bring a little bit of that home. I know my neighbours are going to be reading this blog post so maybe they’ll invite me to go to Petrofka, or Borden, or something like that.
Vaughn currently has two beautiful listings for sale at Sarilia:
Rhett McLane has transitioned from a professional football career to the life of an entrepreneur through his partnership with Alair Homes—a home-building company with 122 franchises across North America. He became the Saskatoon franchise owner last summer, and says his past athletic pursuits have a surprising amount in common with his current career.
All photos courtesy of Alair Homes
“It’s no different from playing football,” he says. “You’re system oriented. You’re driven to one goal. I always approach it as, my project managers are my star quarterbacks, the bench is my sub-trades. You always want the best people on your bench—you can tap them and bring them into the game or bring them onto a project and let them do what they do best.”
Rhett says there’s a similar systemic approach with Alair. “It’s very organized because you’re drawing from the experiences of 122 other franchise owners, which spoke to my heart because I won a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2005, so I approached Alair Homes and the business that I run the same way as I approached my football career.”
As one of Sarilia’s suggested builders, we chatted with Rhett about his home building experience, industry trends and what drew his attention to Sarilia.
How did you get your start in home building?
I’m a new franchise owner but my history in construction goes back about 10 years. I started working with a home builder in Saskatoon as a salesperson and it progressed from sales,into project management, and now ownership. I’ve always wanted to own a business and when I started working in construction I wanted to own a construction company. I just didn’t know enough back then, so I talked to as many people as I could and I listened. I observed on the residential side and then I went and worked with a commercial construction company out of Edmonton for two years and I learned a lot about the bid process on large $15-20 million schools, shopping centres, hotels and things like that. Then the opportunity came up to become a partner in Alair in Saskatoon which is my home city.
What kinds of trends are you seeing in the home building industry today?
Home automation. It’s something that comes up more and more when speaking with clients. Home automation can be more than using an app on your phone to control the thermostat or using a remote control to put blinds up and down. It can go through to your lights, your plug ins, your stereo, your TV—everything is integrated off of one remote.
But when you take it up to the next level—it’s called geo-fencing your home. So if you’re driving home and you start pulling up to your driveway and open your garage door, the home recognizes that you’re coming home and it turns up the furnace, it turns the lights on, it unlocks the doors, everything like that. It readies the home for you to walk inside before you even get there.
What was it that enticed you to take a look at Sarilia?
My wife and I both grew up on a farm and I think it’s important for (our) kids to have that extra space. Our goal was to try to transition our family into acreage living at some point, so I was always looking for these types of developments around Saskatoon. I think the views that Sarilia provides—and the trees—are the big thing.
Not to talk badly about the developments that are south of Saskatoon, but people drive that highway to Regina and they just can’t believe what people build out there. There are no trees—you’re just building on the barren prairie. So when you can get into places like Sarilia, you have these beautiful vistasdown into the river valley, but you also have trees as well, which offers you privacy on some of the lots. And there’s just a lot of variety with the lots. There are different elevations: you can have riverfront, or you can have river view where you sit up a little bit higher. There are a lot of different options—lot sizes and pricing and things like that as well.
You met Gwen, Sarilia’s developer, for coffee back in December. What did you learn about the development during your meeting?
Just the community feel that she’s trying to convey out there, which is something that really spoke to me because, like I said, I grew up in a small town and she is offering the same type of values: knowing your neighbours, a community garden, a playground, things like that. There’s lots to do. Have a walk, a riverbank snowshoe—there’s lots of positives.
We’re often asked about what kinds of winter activities our residents partake in here at Sarilia. In fact, that’s one of the most appealing things about living here in the river valley–nature is right on our doorstep. We don’t have to get in the car and drive somewhere else to experience it.
Here are a few things we like to do when Sarilia is blanketed in snow: cross-country ski, snow shoe, walk on our nature trails, ice fish, and warm up with friends around a bonfire by the river. As they say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes.”
And the kids here love to head for the hills to toboggan. We asked a few of them (Gwen’s grandkids) what their favourite winter activity is. Here are their answers.
Jackson (age 11): Having fun with the people in my life that I care about the most.
Bentley (age 5): I love doing canon balls down the hill, being outside, playing with my cousins and racing up and down the hill!
Hannah (age 11, white toque): Just being with my cousins makes me HAPPY!
Jade and Devin are our newest soon-to-be residents at Sarilia. With two daughters (Sloan, age 2, and Neve, 5 months old) and a dog named Philly, they’re eager to start their new life in our river valley community this summer—they expect to move into their new A-frame-style home by July. We chatted with Jade to learn more about her family, what drew them to Sarilia, and how it felt to meet some of their future neighbours back in October.
How did you first hear about Sarilia? We were looking at acreages online and we stumbled across one that was for sale at Sarilia. We drove out there and we realized how beautiful it all was, and how there was all this other property that we could look into.
I got out of my vehicle and stood there, and I was like, “Okay, we are going to be moving here.”
How would you describe your first impression? We felt like we were at the lake. It felt like we were at the cabin—instantly relaxed and laidback and just where we wanted to be. It felt like home.
Where are you both from originally? And where are you moving from? I grew up in Martensville and Devin grew up in a little town called Frobisher, just outside Estevan. We live in Warman right now, so we will be moving from here.
What was it you were looking for that you found at Sarilia? When I grew up in Martensville, it was a small town. And the community that Devin grew up in has about the same amount of people that Sarilia has. We both wanted that for our daughters.
When we moved to Warman it was a bit smaller. Now, all the sudden, grocery stores are behind our house, Dairy Queen is right there, and the highway is right there—everything was just too close. It was too city-like. We needed to get away.
Right now, we have the street lights shining in our house all night long, the grocery store lights are on 24/7 in our house—we just need to be in the dark for a little bit! (laughs)
Was there one feature at Sarilia that solidified your decision to move? It was a number of things. We didn’t know about the river access until we met with Gwen. We just thought we’d have a view of the river and we didn’t know everything Sarilia had to offer until we met Gwen.
Our first impression would have been that we just want to be out there for the calmness and the view. Upon talking to Gwen a few days later, we realized the (little free) library, the river and the little nature reserves all around were just kind of bonuses.
Is there something you’re most excited about in regards to your new home? It’s a little bit of everything. We’re really excited for the small-town community feel, and to feel like we can go and talk to our neighbours. Our girls can go down the street and ask a friend to hang out and we don’t have to be breathing down their necks or watching them all the time to make sure they’re safe.
And the laidback lifestyle. Because you come home from a long day at work and it would just be really nice to go down to the river and have a wiener roast—just feel like you’re at the lake every day.
Can you tell me about the style of your new home? We’re going with an A-frame. It’s going to feel like a cabin/cottage. We’re trying to go with that mentality—so a stone mantle above the fireplace and the A-frame overlooking the river.
Why did you decide to hire Griffin Properties to build your home? I’m good friends with Sarah (Reid, the co-owner) so I’ve known them to be extremely hard workers. I’ve seen all the houses that they’ve built for themselves and all the time and energy they put into all the little details to make the house perfect for their family.
I know when Sarah started looking at designs for our family, she was thinking about our family—not what everybody else would have wanted, but what our family needs and wants. Every little detail was thought of. They put a lot of TLC into the project.
What do you and Devin like to do in your spare time? We like to travel a lot and we like to be outside and go to the lake. We have a cabin up at Chitek Lake with my parents, so we love to be up there all the time.
I like to snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowboard, and Devin likes to snowmobile and downhill ski, so we’re very wintery people. We like to be outside more in the winter than probably in the summer. I run too—anything to be outside really. We’re always up for trying something new.
Do you think you’ll get out on the water at Sarilia? Oh yeah. Devin wants to buy a canoe. He wants to do that and I like to (stand-up) paddleboard. We’d like to do more of that.
My dad taught me how to fish, so I’d like to do that with the girls and teach them how to do things like that and appreciate nature.
Do you plan to get involved in the community garden? Yes. I have two garden beds right now so I am definitely going to be doing that.
Even now, I know they’re really young, but we have raspberry bushes and in the summer Sloan likes to go pick them and eat them. That’s kind of what I want to get my girls into—just being more with nature.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? We came out to Sarilia for a potluck at the beginning of October and it felt like home. We were like, “We don’t want to drive back to Warman.” (laughs)
It was really nice to meet everybody and we had a really warm welcoming. Everyone was so relaxed and laidback. I don’t know if that’s their personalities always or if being there brings it out of them, but I also felt like it was more of a family—like I could rely on some people to help out if need be and that kind of feeling. It made us more excited and we are very eager to be out there.
Sarilia is home to a lot of book lovers, so what could be better than building a Little Free Library (LFL) for our residents to share their love of reading?
This summer, a group of residents got together to create one of these “take a book, share a book” exchanges right here in our community. Our library is now registered on LittleFreeLibrary.org.
Kayla and her daughter Wren are two resident bookworms who love Sarilia’s LFL. We chatted with Kayla to get her thoughts on this new community building project.
What do you think about the new Little Free Library at Sarilia? I think it’s a great addition to our community. Literacy is so important for everyone and it’s in a great area to just stop and grab something while out for a walk.
What was your daughter Wren’s response to it?
She loves the little library. Wren gets super excited when we go down to see what’s new.
Do you do a lot of reading at home with your daughter? We are constantly reading, I’m a bit of a book worm and she’s definitely picked up that trait!