Having moved to Sarilia almost 11 years ago, Dale Prefontaine is one of our long-term residents. As one of the first Sarilia residents, he spent a summer cutting Sarilia’s river trails with his son, Matt, and building boardwalks with a group of other residents in the early 2000s. “It was a community effort,” he says, “The community here is very good at supporting each other. We rally together for events like this, to try and improve the park, trails and community garden.”
We recently chatted with him to discuss the new improvements being made to the community, his active, outdoor lifestyle at Sarilia, and how he’s seen our community develop and change over the years.
What was it about Sarilia that made you decide to move there?
Being able to have a home on a riverbank in Saskatchewan is a great opportunity. It’s a unique property, in a beautiful setting—the river valley. I have deer running through my yard and rabbits and squirrels. It’s just awesome.
What kind of year-round recreation do you participate in at Sarilia?
In the winter, I’ll either cross-country ski or snowshoe. With the early snowfall this year, snowshoeing was just automatic—I’ve probably been out snowshoeing about 15 times already.
The former Langham golf course has been taken over by the River Ridge Nordic Ski Club. They have groomed trails for classic ski, skate ski, snowshoeing and hiking. The scenery is beautiful as the groomed trails follow the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. I hike and ski there frequently because it’s less than 5 minutes from Sarilia.
I’m a canoeist, so I’m on the water as much as I can be in the summer. I’ve canoed with my son from here to Prince Albert. We left from Petrofka, and I think it took three days to get to PA.
We’ll also get someone to drop us off at Borden (that drive takes 15 minutes) and we launch from there and have a nice two-hour paddle back to Sarilia.
I go for daily walks down on the river trails. I’ve taken photos of porcupines and ruffed grouse on the trails—it’s a nice nature walk.
If it’s a nice day without much wind, I’ll go for a bike ride. You can either go to Langham or cycle east of Sarilia. I try to spend more time outdoors than I do indoors.
What kinds of changes have you witnessed during your 11 years at Sarilia?
The developers, Gwen and Ronn, originally thought it would be more like a retirement community with people in their 40s or 50s who could afford recreational properties (as a secondary home). But in the last 5-6 years Sarilia has become popular with a much younger demographic of people who want to move out of Saskatoon and live the country life. So, we have lots of babies and puppies (laughs). It’s really nice—I like that.
Tell me about the latest enhancement to Sarilia—the new park.
It’s called The Hollows and it’s been a real community effort. One of our residents came up with an overall plan last year. Our parks & recreation committee pitched the plan to our local RM, and the RM was very supportive of our ideas.
A group of Sarilia residents cleared out an area in the spring and put in a nice fire pit with a patio around it. We built a pergola and added a swing set for the kids. We’re going to add a horseshoe pit and we’ll be also be adding a skating rink. It’s a nice place for Sarilia residents to gather because it’s sheltered in a little dip in the landscape, and it’s enveloped by trees. Every year the community likes to enhance something that will help us enjoy the four seasons outdoors.
As a long-time resident, what is it like to live at Sarilia?
I am so enthralled with Sarilia. I think it’s a great opportunity to live in the country. A small city lot is 5,000 square feet, and most lots here are around 15,000 square feet. It’s the perfect fit if you want to live in the country.
The lots here are spacious, but with the xeriscaping, there’s very little maintenance compared with an acreage. When people move to an acreage, all they’re doing is maintaining it—there are ditches to cut and grass to mow. Here, it’s just laid back and you enjoy life a little more because you have the opportunity to. For me, getting rid of my lawnmower was one of the nicest things I ever did in my life (laughs).