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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. 

Meet the neighbours: Courtney, Keith, Kinsley & Lincoln

A lot of the people who make their home at Sarilia were originally searching for an acreage near Saskatoon. Usually, that desire originates back to how they grew up themselves—on a family farm or acreage-style property. The lots for sale at Sarilia are less than an acre, but some residents have combined two lots to create an acreage property. Either way, our river trails, nature reserves, community garden and playground provide lots of communal green space to enjoy without the extra upkeep. Our newest neighbours, Courtney, Keith and their two kids, found that Sarilia was the perfect place to “meet in the middle,” after moving here from Hanley, SK in December. Keith had been wanting to move to an acreage, and Courtney wanted to move to Saskatoon—and Sarilia ended up being the perfect fit for their family.

We recently chatted with Courtney to find out what else attracted them to our river valley community, and how they plan to spend their first summer at Sarilia.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? I’m a mom to two. I have a 3-year-old, Kinsley, and 1-year-old, Lincoln. I am married to Keith and he works in the construction field. Generally, he is on the road, but right now he is based in the office because of everything that’s going on. I also work in the construction field as a manager. I’m partly working from home but I have the kids right now. Once construction picks up, I will be back to work. What do you both like to do in your spare time? My husband loves anything outdoors. He loves to go fishing, build things and go for walks. I like to go for walks too, but I don’t really have a whole lot of spare time because I have two small children. What made you decide to start looking for a new home? And were you looking for a new home, or a different kind of community? We’ve had our eye on Sarilia for a while. A couple years ago, we put in a bid on another house out here, but we didn’t get it. And this house, (the sellers) actually contacted us because they knew we had put a bid in on the other house at Sarilia. We kept an eye on the listing and they dropped the price, and we jumped on it because this is where we wanted to be. What was it about Sarilia that made you both want to move there? I had really wanted to move to the city from our small town and my husband really wanted to move to an acreage. So, we found Sarilia and it just met us both in the middle, because, although our lot is less than an acre, we have that feel of an acreage, and we still have the amenities of being in the city as far as your garbage pick-up. It was a way we could meet in the middle and we were excited that we found this place for sale. In regards to the house itself, did it have something in particular you were looking for? Oh, yeah—a big white kitchen. I was looking for a big white kitchen. It was on my must-have list and it had the furnishings we wanted. It has the dream master bathroom. It basically was everything we wanted, and it backs onto the river, so that’s also a plus. Did you look at any other communities like Sarilia?  We couldn’t find any other communities that were like Sarilia. There’s really nothing else where you have the river right there. There’s nothing else like it. Was the proximity to the river a big attraction for you? Another reason we moved to Sarilia was so that we could be closer to our cabin at the lake. It cut down our drive by a whole hour—so we are definitely water people. We like the lake, and being able to look out onto the river every day—it’s calming for us.
What were some of your first impressions of Sarilia? Since we’ve moved here, we’ve met some really great people. And I’m excited for a time when this (pandemic) is all over and we can all get together more often and have barbecues. Were you and Keith concerned about using a septic and cistern system? Do you have experience with either? We do, because that’s what our cabin runs off of. So, we have experience with it. Not full-time living with it, but we didn’t have any concerns. What are you most looking forward to doing at Sarilia this summer? I hope that we can eventually get together more with our neighbours and visit and have parties and barbecues. I would love to have get-togethers because I’m a social person. And just walks along the river.

Q&A with Cass & Jeni

Jeni, Cass, their two kids, Draeden and Emma, and their dog, Saydee, moved to Sarilia on February 14th this year, and it was “probably the best Valentine’s Day gift ever,” says Cass. They moved here from Saskatoon, but they’d had Sarilia in their sightlines for several years—ever since Jeni’s brother Brad and sister-in-law Tessa moved their own family here from the city. We recently chatted with the couple to find out what enticed them to move out of the city, what their kids think about their new home and what their plans are for their first Sarilia summer.

Cass, Jeni & daughter, Emma

What made you decide to move away from Saskatoon? Cass: We are both small-town/farming people. Jeni grew up on a farm in a very small community and I’m from a very small town so the country is exactly where we wanted to be. Did you look at other developments and acreages around Saskatoon? Cass: We did look at acreages, but once Brad had scoped out Sarilia, and showed it to Jeni, she had her heart set on it. That would have been six or seven years ago. And then, when we met, she brought me out here, and I was like, “oh my goodness, this is beautiful.” Once we really looked at it, we knew we wanted to be out at Sarilia. Was there something specific you were looking for in regards to a new home? Cass: We wanted space—a bigger yard. We didn’t want to be side-by-side with our neighbours. Just to get away from the pavement and be out in nature. After talking to Gwen, we knew it was the type of community we wanted to be a part of. It has a small-town feel, and like-minded people. There are lots of young families, so we knew there would be kids who would be going to school with Emma—kids that she would grow up with. There were so many pros. Were they any particular features that attracted you to Sarilia? Cass: The river was definitely number one for us. That’s why we built our house right on the riverbank. We wanted to be as close to the river as possible. How has your lifestyle changed since moving from the city to Sarilia? Cass: The main difference is just being out in nature and having that ability just to go out and be exposed to fresh air. It’s very quiet and you can hear the coyotes. We had a moose pass the front of our house the other day. You can hear the owls. You can hear the geese. You don’t hear people—you just hear nature. What do your kids think of about living at Sarilia? Cass: They love the space. There’s so much more to do out here versus being in the city. We’ve always been very outdoor people, so it’s given us a lot of freedom to be out and exploring. We’ve got a pet beaver down on the river trail that we see often. It’s a cool experience being back out in the country. It’s exactly how I grew up and I’m so excited for my kids to grow up in the same type of environment. Jeni: It’s almost like letting kids go back to being kids. In the city, you always have to keep a close eye on them—watch where they’re going, and pretty much be with them all the time. When we’re out here—not that we’re not paying attention to what Emma’s doing—but we can sit on the deck and she can run and play around and we’re not concerned that there are dangers lurking around the corner. We both grew up on a farm/small town, so I think it’s just great for kids to have all that nature to explore and not have to be cooped up inside. What do you think the transition has been like for your dog, Saydee? Cass: Saydee is very happy to be out in the country. As a family, we love going out for walks on the river trails and just out on the road to get some exercise. She just has so much more freedom being out of the country and she loves to swim in the river. What was it like to work within Sarilia’s design standards when you built your new home? Jeni: We are happy with how (our house) looks and we’re actually glad that there are standards because it makes the houses look that much more appealing. Did you have concerns about using a septic and cistern system? Cass: We weren’t concerned because of where we grew up. Jeni has a septic tank on her farm where she grew up, and where I grew up (at Crooked Lake), we also had a septic tank so it was nothing new to us. And (with the cistern system) you don’t even have to be home when they deliver your water. You just tell them how much you need and they fill up your tank—it’s simple. We also put in a great greywater system, (which means) our freshwater is recycled to be used in our toilets, so we don’t go through a lot of water. I think we’re on week 12 right now without a septic pump-out so we’re doing really well. The greywater system isn’t a requirement at Sarilia, but you’re definitely saving a ton of money in the long run if you install one.
What activities do you plan to do at Sarilia this summer? Cass: We have a garden plot (in the community garden) so we are going to be gardening, which I’m excited for. In the city, I only had little (garden) boxes so I’m excited to actually have a garden plot and harvest some vegetables and fruit for our family. And we have a canoe so we are definitely going to be out on the river. Maybe try a hand at fishing. There’s so much to do—we’re just so excited for our first summer. What has the commute to work in Saskatoon been like for you both? Jeni: It’s really not that far. It’s about 25 minutes and pretty much double lane the entire way. When we were living in Willowgrove it was still a 15-18 minute commute so what’s an extra seven minutes to be out at Sarilia? It’s well worth the extra seven minutes. Cass: Honestly, it’s the greatest thing to see the lights of the city in your rearview mirror.

A nostalgia for home

I was born and raised in Whitewood, a small town in southern Saskatchewan. My childhood home was over 100 years old and situated on a four-acre parcel of land close to the edge of town. The land was well treed, hilly and had a small creek that ran through the bottom of the property, close to the garden. The house sat on a hillside, so we had a great view. 

My childhood home in Whitewood, Sask.

I was one of four kids. We spent our free time building forts, making rafts to paddle on the creek, playing ball, hosting picnics, picking Saskatoons and helping our mum garden and our dad cut grass.  

My husband Ronn and I have owned this 86-acre parcel of land, that we now call Sarilia, for about 25 years. We always planned to retire here. About 13 years ago, we decided to sub-divide our property and began researching how to build a village. 

While I was working on promoting the first phase, I met a couple, Walter and Eileen, from Saskatoon when they came out to look at the available lots. While the three of us were standing on one of the riverfront lots, Walter got really quiet, and eventually broke the silence.

 “I was born and raised on land like this and I just loved it so much,” he said. 

 I told him, “I get that. So was I.”

A nostalgia inducing view at Sarilia

I don’t think I consciously understood what I was doing until that moment. I realized that I have always had this hankering to go back home. I had wanted to raise our kids the same way I was raised. 

A place with a lot of space and trees. 

A place where you can ride your bike everywhere because you know everyone and it’s safe.  

A place where there is a strong sense of community, and that community becomes your family of choice.  

I guess you could say I was a little late to the party as our kids were all grown. 

My grandkids, admiring the spring crocuses at Sarilia

But today, we have ten grandchildren that beg to come out for sleepovers and cry when they have to go back home.

When they visit, we build forts. We drag our blankets and pillows onto the back deck so we can look at the stars. We sing and play guitar in the sun porch. They help me with my garden, they go fishing down at the river and for walks at the nearby golf course. We fly kites. We pick crocuses together in the spring and go sledding in the winter.  

We’re creating memories that I hope they look back on, just as fondly as I look back on my own childhood memories. 

It’s a pretty good life we’re able to share with them, and oh boy, that makes me happy.

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!

 

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!

 

Sarilia lifestyle Q&A with Shayna & Sheldon

Shayna and Sheldon both originally hail from Hudson Bay, Sask. Like many of our residents, they relocated to Sarilia from Saskatoon to rediscover the small-community lifestyle in which they were raised.

They settled into our river valley community last July with their two young daughters: Gemma is four and Daisy is 13-months. Sheldon works in Saskatoon, and Shayna is a stay-at-home mom who runs a part-time daycare from their new home base.

We chatted with them to learn more about their decision to move to Sarilia, and how they envision their family’s lifestyle here—this summer and beyond.

Sarilia residents family photoWhat was it about Sarilia that made you decide to build a home here?
Shayna: The natural landscaping. For close to a year we drove around Saskatoon and looked at several different estate developments and when we drove out here… just the views, like when you come down the road into Sarilia, you can see all the rolling hills and you can see right down to the river. We drove around and Sheldon knew he was in trouble—I fell in love with it.

My heart had made a decision already, but we didn’t make a final decision for a little while. We obviously talked about it and we met with Gwen, but I knew pretty instantly that I wanted to move here and Sheldon knew quickly that he was going to have to figure out if we could do that!

Was there an urge to get out of the city?
Sheldon: We’re both from a small town, so the city was not really for us.
Shayna: We had done the city thing. We both grew up in a tiny town and thought that we wanted the exciting city life and we enjoyed it for a couple of years when we were first married and we didn’t have any kids.

Eventually, we realized it wasn’t quite for us. Especially after Gemma was born, we started feeling that calling to have more space and be more connected to outdoors and have a smaller community feel.

Now that you’ve been here almost a year, how has your lifestyle changed?
Shayna: It’s just a little bit quieter. It’s easier to enjoy the outside time.

In the city, to enjoy nature, to see the river you go down Spadina, or you go for a walk or go to a park, but that was really the only way to get that nice, quiet outside time.

And even then, it’s still busier, whereas here, we just go out onto one of our many decks or go into the yard or walk down by the river. You don’t need to drive anywhere to get that peace, it’s right here. Outside of that, we’re homebody-type people so our lifestyle didn’t change a whole lot.

Where do you work?
Sheldon: I work in Saskatoon.
Shayna: I’m a stay-at-home mom but I do have a part-time daycare. I’ve got a few different families who bring their kids out part-time, so usually three days a week I’m open.

So, you’ve already spent one summer here at Sarilia?
Shayna: We did, but we didn’t. We had a baby the previous May so when we first moved out here she was still quite fresh and delicate so there was still a lot of working around her naps and feedings. We couldn’t go outside for too long, so this summer is going to be kind of a first.

What are your plans for your this summer now that you’ll have more flexibility?
Shayna: Just going for walks down by the river and those basic things—just spending some time outside as a family without having to go anywhere. We don’t have to pack up the kids; we don’t have to pack up all the things and go. We just put on our shoes and our hats and go outside.

As your kids get older, what kinds of activities do you want to do with them at Sarilia?Sarilia resident family photo
Shayna: We’re going to be putting in a garden this year. We both love getting our hands dirty and Gemma’s looking forward to being able to put in a much bigger garden this year.

Last year we missed the opportunity because when people were planting in May, I was 40-weeks pregnant and couldn’t touch the ground! This year we’re excited to put in a larger garden.

When the kids get older we’ve talked about canoeing and other activities, but some of those things right now—the safety and logistics of doing it—we’re not quite there yet. But as they get bigger, being able to explore the river is definitely high up on the list.

What do friends say when they come to visit?
Sheldon: Shayna has a friend from Ireland who just loves it out here because it reminds her of home.
Shayna: Yes, with the rolling hills and everything.

How did you come across Sarilia?
Sheldon: We went to Dalmeny, Delisle and Dundurn…
Shayna: We went every direction outside the city. We visited Warman and Martensville too—some of their development areas…
Sheldon: And I came across Sarilia on Google…
Shayna: In one of our many searches, Sheldon found Sarilia online and on one of our weekend drives of exploring, we came out here and the rest is history as they say!

 

Sarilia lifestyle Q & A with Al & Annette

Al and Annette are two of Sarilia’s longest residents, having moved to the river valley community over seven years ago to experience what Al calls “pre-retirement.” We chatted with them to get a glimpse of what that lifestyle transition looks like.

What made you decide to move from Dalmeny to Sarilia?
Annette: The beauty of the river valley and the new community that was being developed here.

Al: I thought we should try to experience pre-retirement.

What pre-retirement looks like: Al & Annette enjoying a glass of wine and a Sarilia sunset


How does living at Sarilia contrast with city living?
Annette: We really like the socializing and being able to know our neighbours. People look out for one another: they watch out for your property, and do nice things for each other here.

What would both of you say are your favourite aspects of living at Sarilia?
Al: My favourite aspect is just being near the outdoors without having to go far—compared to the city.

Annette: You don’t have to drive anywhere to go to a park—it’s right outside your door. You’re surrounded by nature and wildlife.

Al: The other aspect I like about Sarilia is, some years ago when we were looking at recreational properties elsewhere, prices were starting to skyrocket. We couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on a property at the lake, maintaining that, and maintaining another house. But here, it’s kind of like being at the lake. It’s the same sort of environment but without the expense and the driving and all the rest that comes along with lake property.

Annette snowshoeing at Sarilia

What are your favourite winter activities at Sarilia?
Al: We like to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When we have decent snow, our neighbour Dale cuts ski trails down to the river.

Annette: There are nice trails down by the river and we hike them a lot. It’s fun to see all the changes that are happening all the time—the change of the colours with the seasons, the migration of the birds.

What are you favourite summer activities?
Annette: Gardening in the summertime is fun. We always see some of our neighbours at the garden—we chat and play music. There’s a nice social aspect to it that I really enjoy.

We also like watching the skyline at night—we can still see a faint light on the horizon in the evening and the stars shine brighter. Al has a telescope and he likes to gaze at the sky—picking out different clusters and planets.

Al: We also try to get out in the canoe a couple of times in the summer.

Annette: Canoeing from Borden Bridge to Sarilia is a lot of fun. It takes 2-3 hours usually—more if you want to sit and have a picnic on the side of the river.

Al enjoying Sarilia on two wheels

Al: I try to get out on my bike. Once you get down in the river valley you can bike the trails that are down around the river easily enough.

Annette: Biking down a country road is kind of fun—there’s not a lot of traffic that you have to worry about.

Can you tell me about curling in Langham?
Annette: Al’s been curling in Langham a little bit longer than I have, but the last couple of years we’ve both been curling.

Al: They’ve got a new rink, and a pretty good club there.

Annette: It’s a really nice facility. Al and I curl there in the mixed league, and when we can, we’ll take in a bonspiel. Even for those who don’t curl, if they like watching curling there’s an opportunity for people just to come and have a beer and watch curling because they have a nice little bar. We’ve enjoyed socializing with people from Langham at the rink.

Blue bird captured by Annette at Sarilia

Blue bird captured by Annette at Sarilia

You both take a lot of beautiful photos around Sarilia. What inspires you?
Annette: It’s just the natural greenery and the colours out here that we really enjoy. Especially in the springtime, the leaves are starting to pop out of the trees and the blue birds are coming back.

Al: Because we’re at the river, you get migratory birds. You see them coming and going all the time. Here we might see a few more unusual birds because there are less people than in the city. In our book, we write down every spring and fall what we see, and I can go look in my book and I can say, “yeah, we saw that last year, and the year before.” It’s almost always within plus or minus a week.

Annette: And there’s a lot of deer around here as well, so we know where they are and what time of day to watch out for them.

Annette’s Sarilia photography