Today, I want to tell you about my home away from home. North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
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.
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 décor -- 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.
The H building (it's built in the shape of an H -- clever) and the men's dorm.
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.
The main road from the centre of the grounds looking west.
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.