Tag Archives: outdoor activities

Coming home to Saskatchewan

We’re excited to introduce you to Patty and Lyle. Friendly, energetic and engaging, they’re recent transplants from Vancouver Island, although they’re born and bred Saskatchewanians. Having spent nearly eight years in Comox, they decided it was time to move home last year, and their path to Sarilia was somewhat serendipitous. 

We recently chatted with Patty to learn a little bit about her and Lyle—why they decamped from BC, how they spend their free time, and what drew them back to Saskatchewan and their new home at Sarilia. 

What was the catalyst behind the move to BC?

My son and daughter-in-law were living in BC temporarily, so we went to visit in January 2014, to escape the -40 temps. We discovered that there was a place in Canada that had temps in the teens in January and no snow! 

In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that experience puts a different perspective on things. Even though I had been working for the government for 30+ years, once we returned from Vancouver Island that January, we started thinking seriously about how we could relocate and try life somewhere else. None of us know when our expiry date will be, but we all have one.

Lyle had worked for UPS for 25+ years at that time, and in May of 2014 they were opening new locations up on Vancouver Island. He applied to relocate and we made the decision to go to Comox as it would allow Lyle to have a better schedule than in a larger community. His work life balance had been almost non existent with minimal time to be involved in any evening activities or events. 

It was a risk to leave a stable government job but we made the leap of faith in fall of 2014 and never looked back. We got into new activities pretty quickly which helped us to meet friends and within a year or so Lyle was jamming with several local musicians and starting to help with the local minor football program. 

Fast forward through years of great friends and fabulous memories and many visits out to see us from friends and family. Then the global pandemic hit and again we found ourselves re-evaluating our priorities which resulted in our decision to move back to Saskatchewan. 

Lyle is winding down to retirement and I was lucky enough to bring my remote work that I had in BC, back to Saskatchewan with me. And here we are. Meeting new friends again and learning about new opportunities and activities we can be involved in. 

How does it feel to be back in Saskatchewan?

It feels good. It feels right. We have a lot of family here. We have two granddaughters now. My husband and I were both married before, so I have two kids in Saskatchewan and he has three in Alberta. They’re all within a decent driving distance now and we’re happy about that. 

Tell me about your new dog—Honey. 

We visited a local rescue shelter WANAR (We All Need a Rescue) on July 2 to see what they might have available. We lost our dog of over 16 years about a year ago and we were ready to find a new housemate. Honey was 9 months old at that time. We fell in love instantly and she has settled in really well. Still training to do as she’s just a puppy but she’s learning every day, and so are we.

When and how did you hear about Sarilia?

I’ve known Gwen Lepage, Sarilia’ s developer, since the late 90s when we did some work together in La Ronge, where I lived at the time. We had stayed in touch and then when I moved to Saskatoon in 2005, we connected again. Around 2010 we were looking to move out of Saskatoon to a nearby community. Sarilia was just being developed at the time and we made the trip out to see what it was like. We really loved the idea of living there but with our jobs in the city and longer hours, it just wasn’t the right fit for us at the time. We ended up in Martensville but never forgot about Sarilia.

What was it about Sarilia itself that made it feel like a good fit for you and Lyle at this point in your life?

I am from La Ronge and lived there most of my life, and Lyle is from Snowden (near the Choiceland-Nipawin area) We both grew up in the bush line with lots of trees and I wasn’t into moving onto the bald Prairie. We were so used to trees and nature being around us and that’s what we were looking to come back to in Saskatchewan. 

Our new house is surrounded by trees. Our deck is quite high and it’s almost like being in a treehouse now because it’s enveloped in trees—it’s like a jungle in the spring/summer. There are so many birds—we’ve had robins nesting on the deck this summer and the bird feeders are always busy! We have chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits too as well as the occasional deer, not to mention the coyotes and bears. It was a lot about the geography and the fact that the river is right there as well. I’m a paddler and I love the water so that was also important. 

Lyle and Honey relaxing on the deck nestled in the trees.

The purchase of your new home was somewhat serendipitous. Can you tell me about that?

When we were living in BC, and thinking about moving back, we were looking online just to see what real estate was like here. A house came up for sale at Sarilia on the SaskHouses site and we both fell in love with it instantly. It was surrounded by trees, and it was the style that we liked. It didn’t have a garage and the basement wasn’t done, but we saw all of the potential. I connected with Gwen and she filled me in on how Sarilia had grown since we last visited. This was back in January of 2021 and we weren’t ready to make the move yet but we planning to list our home that summer. In the meantime, the house we had found had sold so that was off the table. 

We sold our home in BC in July 2021 and planned to move back in spring of 2022. We made a trip back in August to see what was available then. We considered building at Sarilia but after fully researching options and with the volatility in the construction market at the time we decided against it and returned to BC still not knowing where we would end up. We wanted to be near water and trees, and we also looked at a place at Blackstrap that we were very close to putting an offer on. Right at that time, in September of 2021 Gwen gave us a call and said, “You’re never going to believe this—the house you guys fell in love in January is back on the market.” 

The home now had a finished basement and a garage. It was exactly what we were looking for—fairly close to the water, nestled in the trees. We “viewed” the house via FaceTime with our realtor and made an offer. The rest is history. 

What do you both like to do in your spare time?

As mentioned, Lyle is winding down towards retirement. He always wanted to coach football and to be in a band…so it was a hope when we moved to BC that his new schedule could allow for that. He coached minor football in Courtenay/Comox and has already connected to the Martensville Maddogs football club and will be helping them with some coaching. 

He also started a garage band while we were in BC, literally in our garage. They played different gigs around town in pubs, at wineries, and special events. So that’s his next thing—he’s got to find some other musicians and get back into that. 

Lyle loves to garden. He was one of the first people this year to plant anything in Sarilia’s community garden and has enjoyed having that garden option. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbours.  

The River Ridge trails are only a couple of kilometres from us, and the trails are for summer and winter use. Lyle has been taking full advantage of the trails this summer and Honey loves to go for walks out there too! Hopefully we can get into some cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing as well. We certainly know what Saskatchewan winters are like so we need to embrace all of the things we can do in the colder weather too. 

I hear you were a competitive paddler—tell me about that. 

I started paddling in Saskatoon in 2013 on a breast cancer dragon boat team, a sport which I knew nothing about at that time, but I had canoed and loved being on the water. Once we settled in BC, I was quickly connected to a team there, consisting of all women who were survivors of various types of cancer. Paddling is year-round on Vancouver Island so dragon boating is a huge sport there for all ages, genders and levels.  

After paddling with those amazing women for a couple of years (and I continued with that team as well) I was introduced to high level paddling and in 2017 started working towards a goal of competing with a competitive club coordinated out of Victoria, but with paddlers from across the island. This was not specifically a “cancer team” but consisted of paddling enthusiasts who were willing to put in a lot of time and work to build their skills. We competed mostly in BC in various regattas and qualified to race in Europe in 2018 in the Club Crew World Championships (held every two years). We brought home several medals and it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. The connections I’ve made through the sport are amazing and will be lifelong friends. I’m hoping to get into other types of paddling out here but it’s been a busy summer!

Building affordable and green in the river valley

How one Sarilia family designed their new home with the planet in mind

Having recently moved to Sarilia from Saskatoon, Kelly, Andrew and their 4-year-old son, Logan, have successfully settled into their new home. Their new bungalow was designed to tread lightly on the planet, while taking advantage of the sweeping river views outside. 

We recently chatted with the family to get to know them, to learn how they’ve incorporated environmentally friendly features into their new home, and how they’ll continue reducing their footprint with their future plans. 

“It’s really important to become more self-sustainable,” says Kelly, “as we face the challenges of climate change as a society.”

Can you both tell me a little bit about yourselves?

Kelly: I was born in Saskatoon, but I actually grew up in the States and lived in China and Australia. I ended up back here to do my Masters, and I have a background in conservation biology. 

My hobbies are anything to do with nature—I’m a big plant nerd, I love hiking and cooking and going on adventures with Logan and Andrew. That’s what drew us out to Sarilia— being in nature. 

I also grew up near the Beaver Creek Conservation Area in Corman Park (from ages 3-10). I really enjoyed being able to run free, and just being on the prairies. When we went out to Sarilia for the first time, we just fell in love with the space even though it was the middle of winter. It definitely felt a lot like where I grew up as a child.

Andrew: I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I’ve always wanted to live in a smaller space, out of the city but not something terribly far away. We really loved the idea of being outside Saskatoon and being immersed in nature. 

What do you do for fun?

Logan: Trick-or-treating and Paw Patrol.

Kelly: In the winter, we love to snow shoe. We definitely want to take up canoeing and kayaking. And as Logan gets older, he can do that too. 

Andrew: We’ve been out on the river ridge trails—it’s a nice, accessible park. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get back into some outdoor sports this summer. I want to get to that middle island (in the North Saskatchewan River). I’ve only fished a few times as a kid but it’ll be nice to have that river access, and that will probably be of interest. 

Kelly & Andrew’s house has an R-value of 41.

What was it that attracted you to Sarilia?

Kelly: Originally we were looking around where I grew up (near Beavercreek) but the lots were very expensive. Andrew had seen Sarilia on Reddit of all places. 

Andrew: We noticed it was north of Langham and decided to go for a drive. 

Kelly: So, we drove out there, and it was just so beautiful. We just fell in love with it. It was so peaceful. I went from living in the country to living in really big cities and I remember when we were standing out there, Andrew said, “there is no noise.”

We lived in Saskatoon at the time. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago, but now, you’re constantly hearing noises in the city. 

One thing I missed was seeing the night sky in full, or seeing storms coming through. It’s just something that you don’t get unless you live in the country. And so we started researching Sarilia a bit more after we drove out there and we saw how affordable it was. 

Andrew: There are tons of young families at Sarilia and that was what really sealed the deal for us. With Logan, there are lots of people our age who have kids—so we are all in that same stage of life together, and I think that’s great to have that kind of community of people.

Can you tell me about your new home?

Kelly: It’s a bungalow with a vaulted ceiling. There are large windows in the front and there’s an overhanging roof over the deck—that’s the part that looks out over the river. And we have a walkout basement. We really wanted to have those big windows to bring in a lot of natural light and expand the view as much as possible—because it’s quite an amazing view that we managed to get. 

I understand it was built in an energy efficient way. Can you tell me about that?

Andrew: The house is built with ICE (Insulated Composite Envelope) panels. They are made of styrofoam and steel. We really liked the concept of a very tight, well-insulated house. It’s pre-engineered, so it’s typically a faster build because the walls are pre-cut, and basically it’s like a LEGO set, to put it all together. It will really reduce the cost of heating. 

For the roof, we decided to go with metal instead of shingles. 

Kelly: Metal roofs are a lot better for insulation and deflecting the sun—and it’s able to support solar as well.  

Were there other environmentally friendly features that were important to you?

Andrew: We really wanted to do solar and we’re still planning to do that. It’s just that to build green off the bat, it’s not at a viable stage yet (cost-wise). There are a lot of incentives in terms of retrofitting, but there’s not a lot when it comes to building green upfront.

We’re not going to water the grass—we are going to keep it natural Prairie. It’s so much nicer than having to worry about that in the city. We’ll also try to improve the land with some trees.

For our long term plans, the garage will be retrofitted to support an electric vehicle, to take into account the rising gas prices and the commute between the city and home—it is a way of offsetting that. 

Kelly: We’re also incorporating a lot of native species into our landscaping. We’re trying to restore the Prairie that we dug up when the house was built. Hopefully planting more native species will help increase the biodiversity. 

As we face the challenges of climate change as society, we need to become more self-sustainable—for example, growing your own food and maybe having a home that’s not completely off the grid but is capable of doing that in the future. 

A lot of what we do personally and professionally, we do to make the world a better place, for not just our son, but generations in front of us—at least we try to.

For more information on ICE panels—a new, technologically advanced building envelope developed in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, visit their website: https://gsbp.ca/blog/what-are-ice-panels

Seeking river valley views: Q&A with Kelsee

We’re thrilled to welcome Kelsee, Gavin and their five kids to Sarilia this January. Having lived in Warman since they were married ten years ago, the couple weren’t even considering moving to a new neighbourhood, until Kelsee—an avid runner—was inspired by a beautiful river view she saw on one of her frequent runs. 

“I had done a few runs close to Swift Current at Beaver Flats and that area has a river view,” she says. “So, when we were talking about updating our current house or building new, we decided the only way we would move is if we could get that river view.”

They found that vibrant river vista here at Sarilia and we couldn’t be happier to have this energetic family as new neighbours. 

We recently chatted with Kelsee to learn more about her family, their new home, and their plans for their new life in the river valley. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself, and your husband Gavin.
I was a teacher, but since having kids, I have done personal training out of my home. I also have a degree in music—and I do balloon animals. Basically, if there’s something weird out there for a hobby, I do it. My husband is an engineer.

Gavin is quite active—he does slow-pitch and curling and he likes to play rec hockey. I used to be a long-distance runner. We like to go hiking and we’re so excited that the River Ridge trails are close to Sarilia. We went out there last winter and we were just amazed by how great they were. We have lots of family close by, so we like to hang out with them. We’re quite social.

Gavin is from Osler and I’m from North Battleford, so neither of us went very far from home. 

Can you tell me about the lot you purchased here at Sarilia?
The lot is fantastic. It’s about 2 acres. We are at the top of the hill with panoramic views. I didn’t want to be surrounded by trees—some people love that, and it feels like a cabin—but I wanted river views. We also back the nature preserve.

The front yard is over an acre, where the kids can play. That was always the point—if we built, we needed room for the kids to run, but we still wanted to be in a community. On a larger acreage, I’d be driving my kids to see their friends, whereas here, they can just walk down the hill. 

What are your plans for the yard?
We were hoping to put in a zip line. And maybe a BMX track on the hill.

Tell me about your new home.
We’ve built a big white farmhouse style with two-storeys and a walkout basement. It’s got a covered porch and covered deck. We’ve got an oversized three-car garage so that I have space for my gym in there. 

How old are your kids?
Our oldest, Bradley, is 8, and Mark is 7. Felix just turned 5, and we have a 4-year-old, Moe, and an 1-year-old, Deuce. 

What did your kids think about the move to Sarilia?
We told them about the zip line, so they’re excited about that. Our new home isn’t a lot bigger than our Warman house, but it looks a lot bigger because we put the garage beside it, not in front of it. And so they think we’re moving into a mansion (laughs). 

You decided to work with Westbury Homes on the construction of your new home. What made you choose them for your builder?
We sent an email out to several builders after we found this lot. We gave them our budget and must-haves, and asked, ‘Can we afford to do this?’ And lots of builders gave a very generic response. 

Ben at Westbury got back to us and was so down-to-earth. He said the budget would work and showed us some projects they had done and gave us a rough price per square foot. He did so much research. He had already contacted Gwen (Sarilia’s developer) before responding to our email, to find out about building at Sarilia. 

He was just great from the beginning and his wife, Jenn, is a designer and they work together. I have a definite style but could not put it together on my own, and Jenn is so great because she gives me a couple of options and I can’t go wrong either way. 

What are you most looking forward to about your new life at Sarilia?
I am looking forward to it being quiet—not seeing cars coming and going all the time. I’m just going to become one of those slow-moving coffee drinkers.

What do you think Gavin is looking forward to?
I think he’s looking forward to the quiet too. Just kind of sitting, looking at the view, and knowing we don’t have to worry about the kids running into traffic or anything like that. 

What about your kids?
Digging holes. It’s very specific. In fact, when the excavating was done for the basement, my kids almost peed themselves because of the big dirt piles. They asked if the piles were staying. But there are enough hills and dirt that I’m sure they’ll build like gophers. 

Do you think your family will get into canoeing or kayaking on the river this summer?
We went to camp last summer and the kids were all kayaking and canoeing, so we thought, ‘Sarilia will be a good fit for them.’ We didn’t want a riverfront lot because I was a bit concerned about the kids and the water, so we have access to the water without it being too close. We own a camper, so (buying) a kayak is probably the next step. 

Do you remember what your first impression of Sarilia was?
It was gorgeous. Not all of the lots have river views, but there is definitely a type of lot for every person. Some people really like that closed-in cabin feeling and there are lots of those kind of properties that are tucked into the trees. 

The lot we ended up getting was my favourite part of Sarilia.  When we first visited, I parked my car at a lookout point, and I was like, “oh this is the million-dollar view.” But it wasn’t for sale (it was marked for future development).

But, after chatting with Gwen about the type of lot we were looking for to build a home and raise our kids, she decided to sell it to us. 

What kinds of activities will you do as a family this winter?
I can see us getting into those river trails (at River Ridge). They have snowshoeing out there, so I could see us doing a lot of that. We could easily get into the cross-country skiing there too. Although arming my kids with spiky poles is concerning (laughs), maybe I’ll just pull them on their skis. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We’ve very excited to meet everybody. It seems like the residents do a really great job of building community and hosting events and we love stuff like that. It will be a really nice change for us. 

We had family photos taken recently and the photographer mentioned that there are several other new families here so that’s exciting. We won’t feel like the only new people. 

Finding my nature fix

“If I imagine hell as a physical place of torture and pain, it’s not the heat that troubles me most; it’s the noise. Hell surely means living in the unceasing din of a construction zone with no time limits, where earplugs and noise cancelling headphones are banned. In the Middle Ages, Christian scholars believed noise was used as a weapon by Satan, who was bent on preventing human beings from being alone with God or fully with each other, alert and listening.” – Julia Baird, Phosphorescence

Sarilia’s glorious fall colour

When new residents move from the city to Sarilia, it doesn’t take long for them to notice the soothing effects of being immersed in nature here in the country. Often, the first comments I hear from our new neighbours is how much they appreciate the quiet, and the calming feeling that envelops them as they descend into the river valley after a day of working in Saskatoon. 

It’s a sentiment echoed in Florence Williams’ bestselling book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.

“Yes, we’re busy,” Williams writes. “We’ve got responsibilities. But beyond that, we’re experiencing a mass generational amnesia enabled by urbanization and digital creep.” She explains that, today, American and British children spend half as much time outside as their parents did, and we have lost more than we’ve realized because of our “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors.”  

She explains that “we don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” 

Although it is terrific to walk our river trails listening to some tunes, it is a completely different experience to walk in solitude and awaken all five senses. Listening to the rustle of the leaves in the wind, smelling the fresh air, and simply breathing in the feeling of Mother Nature on your skin and in your body—it’s both calming and revitalizing. 

Hoar frost blankets the trees along the North Saskatchewan River

Before we lived in the country, I would experience this nature fix once or twice a year when we went camping at one of Saskatchewan’s northern lakes. I’m now keenly aware that spending time in nature once or twice a year is not enough.

Ronn and I have been settled in the river valley for nearly eight years now. Living within nature has had a calming, quieting effect on my life. It’s made me slow down and appreciate a more peaceful, easy, relaxed pace.

While I still enjoy spending time in the city, there’s nothing like returning to my home, nestled within nature with a view of the winding North Saskatchewan River outside my door. 

I’ve found my nature fix right here at home, and I’m happy to receive a daily dose of it. 

-Gwen

From acreage living to river valley vistas: Why one young family chose Sarilia

Chelsey, Dustin and their two children are some of Sarilia’s newest transplants—having moved here from an acreage near Hepburn this fall. Although Chelsey says they loved having “a lot of space for our 4-year-old to run around,” the downside was a feeling of isolation. “The closest neighbour was actually my husband’s cousin and they were about a mile away,” she says. 

When the couple learned they were expecting their second child, they considered making an addition to their two-bedroom home. But financially, it didn’t make sense, so they started searching for a larger home. They began by looking at houses in several small Saskatchewan cities and towns, but eventually ended up right here at Sarilia. We recently chatted with Chelsey (and her son Thatcher!) to get to know this vibrant young family and why they decided to relocate to the river valley. 

Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

Thatcher is four, and Lachlan is three months. My husband, Dustin, works for Acadia Paving. He is a heavy duty mechanic and he’s the shop foreman there. I’m a stay-at-home mom as of right now. That might change. 

What are some of your hobbies?

My husband’s hobby is easy: cars—anything automotive. And fishing. 

For me, it’s camping—we do a lot of camping in the summer. We typically go to Sask Landing. This summer was the first year we got our own trailer so we went out to Martins Lake for September long. We want to do more exploring around the province. 

What was it that you enjoyed about acreage living, and what were the challenges?

We enjoyed the space—having a yard for a bonfire and my son loves soccer, so space to kick the ball around. Although I enjoyed not having neighbours right beside us, on the other side, it felt secluded and I didn’t really enjoy that. Not having a community was probably the only downside. 

What kind of selection criteria did you have for your new home?

We were just looking for a larger house, with four bedrooms and a garage. That was pretty much our only criteria. In the long run, that probably made it harder for us because we didn’t have a specific location in mind. We were looking in Warman, Martensville, Waldheim, Osler—we were looking everywhere.

How did you find Sarilia?

My sister, who lives in Swift Current, sent me a listing for a different house at Sarilia, but it didn’t have a garage. Then I just started looking at other houses in the area and found the one that we bought. We knew about Sarilia, but in all honesty, we didn’t think it would ever be in our price range so we didn’t even consider looking out here.

Do you have any plans for meeting your neighbours once you’re settled in?

We have a dog, so we’ve been walking him, and people are out on their decks and they say hello, so we’ve been chatting with people that way. I’m also hoping, with Halloween coming up, that will be another way we get to meet people. 

Tell me about your dog. 

Our dog is a big, old man. We got him from someone who lived in Warman so he was a city dog and then we converted him to acreage living. Now that he’s older he’s going to be more of an indoor dog. His name is Rocky and he’s a Burmese Collie. 

Thatcher, what do you like most about your new home?

Thatcher: The paint. 

Chelsey: What about your bedroom? What’s in the window of your bedroom?

Thatcher: The moon!

Chelsey: The previous owners left a moon decal on the window, so it’s perfect for him.

What kind of activities do you want to do as a family this winter and next spring and summer?

We want to teach Thatcher how to skate. I know that in the past, the community here has made the little ice rinks so we’re excited to do that. We try—once a day—to walk up to the park at the top of the hill. And just a lot of fishing. My husband loves to fish so he and Thatcher are excited to go fishing down at the river.

Thatcher: I caught a fish.

Chelsey: Yes, you caught a fish at Petrofka. 

You must be very good at fishing. 

Thatcher: Yep!

Were you aware that there are a lot of young families at Sarilia before moving here?

We didn’t really know. We actually thought it was an older community. So we were definitely pleasantly surprised. To have our windows open and hear the kids playing outside—I like that. 

What was your first impression of Sarilia?

It’s beautiful. You come over the hill and you see all the trees. We saw it at the end of August and the beginning of September, so just all the greenery starting to turn for fall—it’s just gorgeous. And just driving around, you drive by someone and they wave to you. Again, it’s that community feel.

Tell me about the river view you have from your new home.

It’s amazing. Especially the balcony off of the master bedroom. It’s beautiful. We can also see it from our kitchen window on the main floor. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We are just really excited to meet people. The more walking around we do, I’m sure the more people we will meet. 

Q&A with Sarilia resident, Vaughn Krywicki

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:

104 Saskatchewan Heights

426 Saskatchewan Road

What kind of winter activities does Sarilia offer?

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.

sledding at Sarilia

 

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!

 

Q&A with Jade

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’s Little Free Library

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!

 

The Cherry Orchard Next Door

It’s cherry season in Saskatchewan and here at Sarilia we’re fortunate to live right next door to a u-pick cherry orchard. Owners Ed Bueckert and Anna Rehan planted the first trees, a variety called Carmine Jewel, in 2000. A few years later they added new varieties, including Cupids and Juliettes. “It took about six years before they started producing to a point where it was a commercial operation,” says Ed. In addition to the u-pick, Ed sells their cherries to local wineries, restaurants and to food services at the University of Saskatchewan.

We chatted with him to glean a little more insight into the delicious cherries he grows right here in the prairies.

What time of year are the cherries ready to pick?
Usually the beginning of August.

What are some of the beneficial properties of sour cherries?
You hear about antioxidants and their benefits, and cherries are really high in antioxidants. They’re also rich in melatonin, which helps you sleep. And there’s research being done about athletes using cherry juice and to speed up muscle generation, but that’s in a research stage.

What kind of volumes do you grow each year?
It varies quite a bit. Right now, I’m in the process of rejuvenating my orchard. Some of these trees are 18 years old and they’re getting too tall and the stems are getting too big. So, what I’ll be doing every year, is cutting down a row of cherries, and they come back really quickly—they regrow from the roots and so, my production right now isn’t as big as it was at one time, but I’ve produced as much as 6,000 lbs. a year. It’s less than that now because not all of my rows are in production. It takes about three years for them to come back into producing after I’ve cut them down.

What other varieties perform well in our climate?
The University of Saskatchewan initially came out with Carmine Jewel. And then some years later, they came out with five varieties they call the Romance Series of cherries. In that series, there’s the Cupid and Juliettes. But there’s also Romeo, Valentine and Crimson Passion.

Do you grow anything else?
We grow apples, raspberries, strawberries, haskaps, but not commercially, that’s for our own benefit. I have 30 bushes of haskap, but the cedar waxwings are just tenacious. If you don’t net them, and net them really carefully, if there’s any little hole, they’re in there. They will clean them off—they’ll eat them till they’re all gone.

Do you have a favourite recipe for your cherries?
We make a sort of pie filling, but we use it for a variety of things. Like as a dessert topping, an ice cream topping or on cheesecake and that sort of thing. It can also be used in pies. You just add a little bit of thickener to it, like modified corn starch and a little bit of sugar and that’s it. It’s a pretty simple recipe and then it can be used for a variety of things. And we can some of that so we have it around for serving dessert.

We also dry a lot of cherries. They’re really good in salads and I use them every morning in my cereal.

How long is the cherry season on your orchard?
We probably have cherries all of August. The Carmine Jewel are the first ones that come, so we pick those first, and then the Juliettes. The Cupids probably aren’t ready to be picked until the middle of August. They will last just about to the end of August.

The Cupids are more for fresh eating, they’re the biggest cherry that we have, and probably the sweetest. They don’t pit very well because their pit is shaped differently. So, we use those more as a fresh eating cherry, and they taste pretty good. They’re sweeter and they look nicer. But for processing I still think the Carmine Jewel are probably the best. Their flavor is really intense, although they’re quite sour—but for processing, that works in their favour.

*Unfortunately many cherry growers in Saskatchewan, including Ed and Anna, have had problems producing cherries this year, likely due to winter conditions. Their u-pick is not open this season, but they are still selling pitted and frozen cherries.