Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My life in places: North Battleford Church Camp

Yesterday, I described my childhood home and what it meant to me.

Today, I want to tell you about my home away from home. North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

Church Camp

I have to admit, when you think of a great place that impacted every moment of your life, North Battleford is not the place you normally go to first.

It is a small city (two small cities, really) on the road to nowhere.  It is a beautiful community with lots of greenery, a river flowing through it, and the worse options of restaurants in the province.

I mean, unless Pizza Hut and A&W are your thing.  Then you're golden.

For my family, North Battleford was the epicentre of our summers.  It was not the town itself; it was the little section of land off Airport Road where we grew up: Sharon Schools.

Originally grounds housing a bible school and orphanage, this quiet little community made up of old airplane hangers and pilot barracks holds church camps at least twice a year.  My grandparents moved there in the 60s to take over supervising the orphanage and never left.  Grandma stayed nearly 50 years until we had to move her to a care home in Lloydminster.


My mother grew up here.  Her childhood is here.  My grandparents adopted my two uncles and all but adopted my auntie.  They impacted more lives than we can ever know with their love and open door.  My grandpa built the hockey rink every winter and tended flowers every summer.  My grandma spent time in the gardens.

Every hug my grandfather ever gave me is here.

Every piece of advice my grandma gave is here.

My family spent a lot of time there and it is where my heart feels at peace.

North Battleford - tabernacle
The church at Sharon Schools.  Where my mom and dad got married.

As I planned to write this piece, I looked through all my photos for pictures to show.  I have none.  I went online and found some a friend had taken and he graciously allowed me to use them here.  Of course, he has none of my Grandparent's home, but he looked for me.

Sometimes, you are in a place so long, you forget that you might want to see pictures of it in your future.

Every year for a weekend at Easter and a week in July, between 300 - 500 people arrive to go to church meetings.


Everyone stays in the dorms that boast retro d├ęcor -- retro meaning that everything is from the 40s.  Not much has changed except the mattresses are no longer stuffed with straw.

We all go to church twice a day, eat together at the dining hall, play sports on one of the many areas dedicated to it, sit around the camp-fire, snack at the canteen, and soak up as much time with each other as possible.

North Battleford - H building
The H building (it's built in the shape of an H -- clever) and the men's dorm.

The girls all stayed in the girl's dorm at the far east end of the grounds.  From 13 years to married, we all crowded into 6 rooms with two plug ins and one mirror each.  One large bathroom to share and a furnace room that held all late night conferences.

I have so many great memories of that place -- staying up all night talking, singing as loud as we could, exchanging clothes, and laughing past lights out until the dorm mothers came to yell at us.


Once I was too old for the dorm, but not yet married (stupid old person biases on the importance of having a man in your life bollocks!!) I returned to my grandma's home during those weeks.

It was then I got to rekindle my relationship with Grandma.  She has provided me with a lot of amusement, wonder, frustration and love.

North Battleford - main road
The main road from the centre of the grounds looking west.

This small area outside of the little city has been where I have experienced so much.

I have met life long friends, most of my old boyfriends, and people who have been my mentors and guides. It has been a part of my life before I had life and will continue to be important to me for many years to come.

I know every inch of this land and have spent hours exploring every building and piece of grass.

It is the home of my family.  The home of my friends.

It is where I know I belong.

Please note: all photos used here have been generously provided by my friend Dale.  He's a good chap.


  1. Well said, Bronwyn. Thanks for the reminder of the eternity of memories and experiences.

    1. Thanks, Jane. It was surprising to me how little I thought about it until I really thought about it.

    2. Glad you took us with you to your 'thoughtful spot'

  2. I smiled the whole time I was reading this. Happy.

    1. It's a good place, Wynn Anne. If you don't mind the 40s!

  3. Thank you for your sharing your lovely memories of a special place for so many.

    1. You are more than welcome. I'm glad you liked it.

  4. You should talk to my mom. She may just have photos of your grandma's house! She has A LOT of old photos and all of Aunt May's. Walter & Sandra McAmmond (wmcammond@sasktel.net)

    1. I bet she would have lots of pics. That would be great to see!

  5. Thank you for this excellent write up. It is so nice to hear how the Grounds has impacted and continues to impact so many lives. We have had our lives changed because of this property and the people on it and yet many in the city do not know what the area is for...strange! It is like our little private oasis that's filled with so many memories!

    1. Isn't that the truth, Renee? It is such an amazing place to so many.

  6. Kirk and Dean, your Uncles?



As much as I like to hear myself talk, I like to hear from you too!