Visiting Kindred Spirits at Wolf Willow Cohousing

Wolf Willow Cohousing
Photo Courtesy of Shannon Dyck

Two Sundays ago, several Prairie Spruce Commons members and guests travelled to Saskatoon to visit Wolf Willow Cohousing.  We were greeted warmly by the community, and welcomed into their common house and suites.  The common kitchen is both appealing and functional, and Prairie Spruce was immediately invited to use the space to prepare the potluck lunch.  After lunch, Christine from Wolf Willow and Ruth from Prairie Spruce co-chaired a question and answer session that both communities found to be informative.  This general meeting was followed by small group tours of the building.

We were so impressed!  Wolf Willow is built on a compact lot, but the use of building space and landscaping is very effective.  Our timing was just right to see the flowers and vegetables that the community grows around the building and even on the boulevard.  An outdoor eating area overlooks a pond and bridge.  It was interesting to learn about the design and construction of their sturdy metal fence, which looks great and was cost effective.    A nearby bike path is practical for bike traffic and long walks.   

Inside, we were all amazed at the use of windows to provide abundant natural light.  Not only are all those windows a stunning design feature, they are integral to the expansive feeling of the building.  It was reassuring to see just how spacious and comfortable a down-sized suite can be.  The use of wood in cupboards, doors, and other aspects of the building adds to its warmth and environmental impact.  We saw many examples of how the privacy and integrity of individual homes can co-exist with the participation and interaction found in the common spaces and overall building.

Having the opportunity to observe a functioning workshop, recycling area, garage, exercise room, craft room, laundry room, kitchen, and lounge was invaluable for a cohousing community that is in the planning stages.  We saw first-hand how the guest rooms can also house an accessible bathroom.  In fact, all the bathrooms in Wolf Willow are generously proportioned (and we were just a bit jealous!).  Distinctive personal touches have been added throughout the building with framed artwork, wall hangings, and tempting reading and conversation nooks.  There is no doubt that the members of this community have an artistic bent.

Our visit to Wolf Willow emphasized the benefits of living in a cohousing community.  A plus was discovering the fun that is in store when our two communities exchange visits in the years to come.


Our Story


Prairie Spruce Summer BBQ
Summer BBQ

Seeking Creative Housing Options

Our story begins in the spring of 2011 when a group of people who recognized the value of community in their own lives and its benefits to the surrounding neighbourhood started looking at creative options for housing in Regina. On the suggestion of a local community organization, they met to discuss the cohousing concept and learned about a cohousing project that was being developed in Saskatoon. Two members of Wolf Willow Cohousing in Saskatoon were invited to speak at a later meeting in Regina. Following this meeting, discussions about cohousing began. Monthly meetings were held, community representatives were consulted, a mission statement was drafted, and information about the project was circulated through the wider community.

On December 12, 2011, Sheila Coles interviewed two members on CBC’s The Morning Edition. Many people who heard the interview attended the regular meeting that took place that evening. Enthusiasm grew, and the word spread.

The January 2012 meeting was pivotal. Twenty-seven people attended, several of whom now form the core of the present group. Plans were made to invite a cohousing consultant to Regina. The group also agreed to implement a social element in the form of potluck suppers before general meetings.

Prairie Spruce: What’s in a Name?

As part of our original visioning exercise, we drew pictures of people, sketched out homes and a spruce tree. Later, the group looked back on these pictures for inspiration for a name. The spruce tree “struck a chord” with the group. Spruce trees stay green and look alive year round. Also “green” can be associated with the sustainable green building aspect. Prairie seemed appropriate to help identify the location of the cohousing development. Commons refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. Thus Prairie Spruce Commons. Our story had a name.

Getting it Built

In May 2012, a weekend “Getting Your Community Built” workshop was held. Regular monthly potlucks and meetings continued through the next year. Committees were formed to build community, deal with legal and financial issues, search for land, and explore design ideas. By the end of the year, our name was registered and the incorporation process was underway.

Project managers Chris ScottHanson (author of The Cohousing Handbook) and Jasen Robillard of Connexus Cohousing Collaborative were contracted in June 2013 and given the task of finding land. We are currently working with Regina architects Pattison MGM and developer Fiorante Homes and Commercial Ltd.

A sense of rapport, spirit and hope continues to grow among project members in 2016 as we share meals and collaborate on final design details.

Cohousing is for me because I have always wanted to live in intentional community living lightly on the earth.      – Faye Huggins