We met Taylor back in the fall of 2020, after she purchased a well-treed lot at Sarilia. As an architectural technologist, she was in the midst of planning her new build, a Humble Home, which she told us about in a previous blog post.
Fast forward to today: she’s settled into her beautiful new home, and she’s now the owner of a sweet golden retriever named Theo. “He’s five months old now. He loves it out here—running around the yard, he just gets so excited,” she says.
We recently caught up with Taylor to find out about how the build came together and what she thinks of her new life in the river valley.
Do you feel that the build of your new home went well overall? I would say so. It was my first time project managing a build on my own, so it was definitely a learning experience but it was really cool to purchase the land and do the design myself and be really involved in the whole construction process. It was a really good experience for me.
Can you tell me a about the layout of your home and how you designed it to fit your needs? It’s kind of funny because I think I went through about 19 different floor plans before I found one I was happy with. It was a process.
The house has three bedrooms and two baths. I have my own bedroom and I wanted a spare room for guests, and the third bedroom is used as my office. I have my own drafting company and I also work from home sometimes in my full-time job with Voce Developments. It’s nice to have that separate space.
It’s open concept. It has a big vaulted ceiling in my kitchen/living room area—lots of windows for natural light. It’s so nice in here during the day because all the sunlight comes in and brightens it up. It’s calm and cosy.
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you’d do differently in regards to the design or build? I did all the painting myself, and next time I would definitely hire a painter! (Laughs)
Can you paint me a picture of what your lot looks like? I’m in the trees—my land was completely treed before I built. I have a view of the river bank on the other side.
Do you have a favourite room, or favourite feature in your new home? I have a couple of decks off of the house. My deck on the front is covered, and I have a deck on the other side of the house, so it’s perfect. Any time of day, I can have sun or shade. I can see myself spending lots of time out there this summer.
Back in 2020, you said it was more affordable to build a home like yours at Sarilia than to build or buy a new home in Saskatoon. Now that your home is complete, do you still feel that way? Yes, I would definitely say so. My house is just over 1,100 sq. Ft. To buy a similar house in Saskatoon, I can imagine it costing a lot more. I also saved a lot of money by managing the build myself. The lots out here are so affordable. If you can be smart with where you’re spending your money, and how you design your home, it’s definitely more affordable to build at Sarilia.
You’ve been settled in now since the fall. How does it feel to live in a home that you design and managed the build for? It’s honestly so rewarding. Just to come home and have that sense of accomplishment. Being out here is so beautiful, it’s so peaceful. The drive out really isn’t bad—the roads have been really good. Just coming out, being in the country, in nature—it’s awesome. You can watch the birds and hear the coyotes at night and it’s just so quiet.
Have you met many of your neighbours at Sarilia? There’s a ladies night that goes on here, so I went to that and met lots of women there. Everybody is so awesome. They’re so nice out here.
I was here for Halloween and there were lots of trick-or-treaters coming to my door. One of the ladies made a map for Sarilia with all the houses handing out candy. And then everybody comes around—it was really cool. There’s such a sense of community here.
Even taking my dog for a walk, you see someone on the road and everyone stops and says hi.
Were there any learning curves that came with moving to the country? For the first couple of months, it was just monitoring septic and water usage. (Sarilia homes use septic and cistern systems). I don’t use that much water—every couple of days I look at the water levels.
There is someone who delivers the water, and he can do emergency runs if you need it, but typically he makes the rounds every two weeks. He’ll send an email in advance, asking how much water we need. It’s really easy.
What kind of winter activities do you plan to partake in at Sarilia? There’s been talk about having a bonfire out here. I’d like to go cross-country skiing. The trails are just down the road. Just going out for walks and being in nature.
What about summer activities? Sarilia has its own beach, so I would like to go there this spring and summer. I paddle board and I fish, so I think being down by the river is just ideal for me.
What do your friends and family say when they visit your new home for the first time? Everybody says it’s so beautiful out here—being in nature. They notice how quiet it is, and say how gorgeous it is.
Now that you’ve lived at Sarilia for four months, what kind of person do you think would enjoy living here in the river valley? If you are somebody, like me, who still drives into Saskatoon every day for work, but you like to be in nature, it’s just a good option. It has the convenience of being close to the city, but it’s also a nice getaway from it.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
With four new builds kicking off at Sarilia this spring, we felt it was a good time to check in with local resident and Realtor Vaughn Krywicki. We’ve all read the articles about Canadian urbanites escaping the city for a new life in the country this year, and we were curious to hear if Vaughn was witnessing the same trend here in Saskatchewan.
In your work as a Realtor, have you seen more people leave Saskatoon for a new start in the country?
It’s been going on for years with some of the smaller centres surrounding Saskatoon. If you go to Warman, Martensville or Dalmeny, you go out on the streets and there are kids everywhere, right?
The next step is to the smaller communities like Sarilia. I’ve even fielded a few inquiries about Sarilia this year from people who are coming from larger centres outside of Saskatchewan—from Ontario primarily. They are typically younger people moving to Saskatchewan for work or coming back home after a short stint out east. They’re looking for a community like Sarilia.
Does living at Sarilia provide a sense of normalcy during the pandemic?
COVID has been a terrible thing that’s happened to our world. But at Sarilia, sometimes you don’t feel as affected by it emotionally because you have all that natural space right outside your door. You can kind of forget about it—even if it’s only momentarily.
When people contact you about looking for a home at Sarilia, what are they looking for?
That’s a difficult question because it’s a lot of different things for different people. It could be an adventure, it could be peace and quiet, it could be just wanting to join a small community and make a difference within it. Sarilia is an interesting place because—I was thinking about this the other day—nobody is from Sarilia. Right? You might say, “I’m from Saskatoon,” or “I’m from Prince Albert,” or another city, but no one is originally from Sarilia—they’ve moved here from somewhere else. It’s kind of like being a pioneer (laughs).
There are four new homes being built at Sarilia this spring. Can you tell me about who is moving here?
There are a couple of young families with children, there’s a young professional, and a mature professional. Overall, Sarilia is very young community—if you look around, there are lots of kids running around. We also have residents who are semi-retired or fully retired. It’s a vibrant community with a great mix of people.
What can you tell me about the types of homes being built this spring?
It’s exciting because the new builds are located on all the different types of lot styles available at Sarilia. There is a build on a riverfront lot, a river view lot, and one of the more private (well-treed) river ridge lots. There is also a new build on one of the two acreage-sized parcels available at Sarilia.
It covers all the bases. It shows that there’s a spot, style and size for everyone. And different budgets of course. Which is great—Sarilia is a diverse community with some large, beautiful higher-end homes, as well as houses that are more of a modest price point. But they all flow with the architectural design standards to keep it all harmonious— and that’s good too because it helps build value and create community in unison.
Of the Sarilia residents you’ve talked to, what inspired them to move here?
It seems like it’s a connection to the river valley—the area and all the outdoor space. Living next to water is a powerful thing. I’ve always felt that way—that we are drawn to it. We’re just drawn to that as a human race; it’s embedded in our subconscious, I think. It’s a unique location in the river valley.
It’s also the sense of community and the outdoor space. Since the landscape is kept natural, residents have a lot of outdoor space, but don’t have to take care of all of it. You don’t have 5 -10 acres of manicured yard that sucks away your weekend. And that’s fine too, for some people. Some people take great pride in their yard, as people at Sarilia do. But it is not such a large parcel that it’s overwhelming.
You’ve lived at Sarilia for six years now. Can you tell me about the sense of community you feel here?
Getting back to the point I said earlier about nobody being from here, the people who move here are often like-minded in one way or another.
There always seems to be something you can connect over, with your neighbours, young and old. Not everyone is a hardcore outdoors person though—some people just love being in the country and they enjoy the views. There’s a lot to see.
I personally just love watching the wildlife. Whether it’s driving to and from work or even at home, sometimes I will bust out the binoculars and look out the front window across the river and see something and it’s kind of neat. You can’t do that in the city—bust out the binoculars and look out your front window. If you’re not lucky your neighbour might catch you and think you’re pretty weird (laughs).
What kind of reaction do you get when you take people on guided tours of Sarilia?
I had a couple out here in February who were looking at properties and they said, “Oh gosh, it’s so beautiful.” They’d never been to Sarilia or the area before, and they said “I can’t imagine what it looks like in the summer if it looks this beautiful right now.”
Scott Enns has always felt drawn to the river valley and the serenity it offers. “I always liked the river life—the North Saskatchewan River and all the wildlife. It’s always been in my heart to live on the river,” he says.
Four years ago, Scott and his wife Pam made that dream a reality, when they moved to a riverfront lot at Sarilia. After discovering the lot for sale online, the couple drove to Sarilia, took one look, “and we called the Realtor and said, ‘we’ll take that lot,’” he says. “It was that quick.”
Although he grew up in Martensville, Scott spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm 15 km north of Sarilia, so he was familiar with the area. Today, Scott is an avid outdoorsman and the owner of Hook in Mouth Outfitters & Tours.
We recently chatted with him to learn how he experiences and appreciates the great outdoors right here at home.
I’ve heard that you find getting out into nature to be therapeutic. Can you explain that?
It really has been. Every single day I am outside in the wilderness. I’m always down at the river and I try to get on the water or on the trails. I’ll take my boat over to the island and go for a long walk. (The island is in the middle of the river).
I like that there’s no light pollution here—there are no street lights. When Gwen and Ronn developed it out here they didn’t want that. I was like, ‘wow, that’s brilliant.’ They did an awesome job.
What’s the island like?
There’s a trail that goes from one side to the other and it’s approximately 7-km long. There are all different species of trees—you’ll walk to one spot and it will be a whole forest of a certain tree and then you get to the north side and there’s all these really cool cottonwoods that are growing crooked.
Can you tell me about the famous cottonwood?
It’s right across from Sarilia on the island. It’s a black cottonwood. It’s 100-feet tall and it’s 20 feet in circumference at the base.
Is it one of the biggest trees in Saskatchewan?
It’s one of the biggest urban trees. There are pine and spruce up north that are probably over 100-feet. But it’s definitely one of the largest.
There is another tree on the island that is likely going to be called the most distinguished tree in Saskatchewan. It may have been struck by lightning and burnt out in the middle, so you can stand inside it. It’s really cool.
Besides the island, are there other parts of Sarilia you find relaxing?
Yes—the river trails. They stretch from one end of Sarilia to the other and it’s really nice down there. When it’s windy, you can go down there and be sheltered from the wind. We’ve had a fire down there with the neighbours a couple of times this summer. It was really fun.
What kind of wildlife have you spotted at Sarilia?
This morning I saw a big moose on the island (from my house). There are probably 5-6 moose on that island. Last year we saw two bears. There’s coyotes, elk, mink and red foxes. There are lots of different birds too—hawks, pheasants, owls, bald headed eagles, blue jays, woodpeckers and whiskey-jacks (AKA grey jay).
How would you describe your perfect day at Sarilia?
Just being outdoors, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. I try to get outside every day. I just love the peace and serenity of being in the quiet, hearing the coyotes and the birds.
As an architectural technologist, it makes perfect sense for Taylor Freemantle to custom design her own home. Although she enjoys working in the city, she knew she didn’t want to live in Saskatoon. She recently purchased a lot right here at Sarilia, and since making the purchase, she’s been refining her house plans.
She’s building a Humble Home—the brainchild of VOCE Developments, a local Saskatoon home building company, where she happens to work. Humble Homes are an affordable, portable solution that can be adapted to suit your lifestyle as your needs change.
We recently interviewed Taylor to learn more about the Humble Home, and what makes it a perfect fit for her.
What made you decide to build a Humble Home and move to Sarilia?
I’m a young professional with only one income. To try to find a house to purchase in Saskatoon is just not realistic. Everything is just so expensive. At Sarilia, the lots are affordable. To build something like this and move out there is actually in my budget. It’s realistic. I know there are a lot of people like me—young professionals who are looking to just get started and Sarilia is an awesome opportunity.
Other than affordability, what was it about Sarilia that made it a good fit?
I was raised in a small town in northeast Saskatchewan. I love working in the city but I’ve always wanted to live outside the city. Lots of my hobbies are outside. I like hiking and fishing, whereas in the city there’s not much opportunity for this lifestyle. Sarilia was perfect—it’s beautiful, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful.
The Humble home show house.
What kind of floor plan are you working on?
Right now, I’m designing a three-bedroom home. One bedroom for myself, a spare room if I have guests or family come to stay, and a smaller room to use as an office.
I’m focused on an open concept. I like entertaining—I have friends and family that I like to have over so it’s important to me to have an open-concept, multi-purpose space. Incorporating outdoor space is also important for me because I like fresh air and being outside.
Although the Humble Home is a permanent structure, can it transition with its owner if they decide they need more space in the future, for example, if their family is growing?
As your personal life changes and your family expands, you can transition the space—we can design for future additions if people are interested in doing that.
That’s my thinking right now. I’m doing this on my own, so my budget isn’t huge. I’m designing something that suits my needs right now and down the road as things progress and I need more room, I have that option.
Also, as your lifestyle changes or family grows, your Humble Home can be moved off site and replaced with a new one that better suits your needs.
VOCE has 12 customizable Humble Home floor plans—what distinguishes them?
We have floor plans targeting every different demographic. So, we have floor plans designed for the lake life where you don’t need a lot of closets, and we have other floor plans that are a bit bigger to accommodate full-time living. Some of them are one-bedroom floor plans and we have all the way up to 3-4-bedroom floor plans.
What kinds of neighbourhoods or settings are a good fit for the Humble Home?
Acreages and developments like Sarilia are a good fit. We’re familiar with Sarilia’s architectural design standards, and can easily work within those parameters to ensure the homes fit in aesthetically and respect the river valley ecosystem.
Will you build your home and then move it to Sarilia, or build on site? When is the big move?
I will be building it on site! I’m planning to have it finished for next fall—that way I can take my time with the design as I’m doing it in my spare time. View from the loft.
To inquire about available lots at Sarilia, contact Vaughn Krywicki at 306-381-9161.