Prairie Spruce – It is more than a name

Recently members of the Prairie Spruce community have been actively searching their yards at home and at the cottage for spruce tree seedlings to help a volunteer (Merle) with the Regina Ski Club. He is collecting the seedlings to eventually place by the cross country ski trails at White Butte to provide wind protection and to help with holding snow on the trails.

By Ryan Hodnett

Merle stated “this is for the future generations.” That is also the way our community feels about the building and community that we are establishing in Regina.   While we know that the community we are establishing is for us, we also know this will be a happy community for future generations when we are no longer here.

Merle, we were happy to help you and the Regina Ski Club with the seedlings. Our Prairie Spruce community envisions this as only being one of many things we will do to connect with our larger community, Regina.

The Prairie Spruce community wishes Merle happy planting for those future generations of skiers.


And So, It Begins – Part 1

I was raised as a farm girl. There were only two girls in the family, so there wasn’t much chance to be a girly-girl. I grew up picking rocks, cutting grass, riding ponies, and chasing cats. Normal attire was jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers.

I have a vivid memory of getting ready for school when I was in Grade 11. It was going to be a hot summer day, so I put on my dark green dirndl skirt and a white blouse. I carefully arranged my bright pink sweatshirt over my shoulders and headed downstairs for breakfast. When my older sister saw me, she loudly declared, “That does not go together.” I was crushed; I thought I looked great. I went back upstairs to change, probably into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Fast forward 35 years or so, I still live in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. My professional attire is black or grey dress pants and colored tops. My sister takes me shopping every summer. If I have to shop for clothes by myself, I usually go to a nice store near the end of the day and throw myself upon the mercy of the salesperson.

I decided to repaint my bathroom once. I wanted it to be cheery and bright. I found a really nice shade of yellow and used bright blue as trim on the window and door frame because I know that yellow and blue go together. I was so proud of myself and my colorful bathroom. Right up until my friend said being in my bathroom was like being in an 

Together with my husband Henning, I have become a member of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing. We have recently signed a contract with Fiorante Homes, the final plans are with the City of Regina, and surveying on the site should start very soon. I was under the impression that someone (I have no idea who) would come to me one day with some swatches of fabric, cupboard doors, and some paint chips and say, “You can have a unit that is shades of brown, or “You can have a unit that is shades of grey.” I was already pretty sure I was going with the grey option, but I wanted to see what the brown one looked like.

Much to my horror, I was wrong, very wrong. There is no magic someone for me. We get a lighting budget, a flooring budget, and a kitchen cupboard budget. Henning took me to Richardson Lighting. I can buy whatever lights I want as long as the total doesn’t go over budget. No, no, no. There is too much choice. I can’t decide what I like; I only seem able to decide what I don’t like. I keep hearing my sister’s voice, “That doesn’t go together.”

I did finally find something I liked, but I’m not sure what would go with it.

I am blessed with a very patient husband. After multiple trips to Home Depot, Lowes, and Rona (going back to Richardson was too traumatizing), I have decided the following. I want a sink that has a built-in soap dispenser. I don’t want a bathtub, just a shower. My fridge needs to have an ice maker.

Luckily, Prairie Spruce is working with Richardson Lighting, Floors by Design, and Palandri Cabinets. Based on what I’ve heard about these companies and what I’ve read on the Internet , I think there is still hope for our unit. I have faith that our unit will be as beautiful as the community where I live.

If you have always dreamed of designing your own condominium and enjoy interior design, join Prairie Spruce now and create your dream home.

Maybe I can just copy your design.



And So, It Begins – Part 2

A humous look at a design and family.

I freely admit I have little or no sense of style. I believe that black dress pants go with anything and that white walls are the best way to decorate. My mother-in-law is quite the opposite. She loves color and knows how to put things together. Her house is always decorated for holidays, and she dresses beautifully. We are the opposite of one another, but have learned to get along very well. This wonderful relationship we have almost didn’t happen.

It was 1993, and Henning and I were dating. It was decided that it was time I met his parents. The plan was to spend the day hanging out at the library where Henning worked, go back to his place to change, and then drive out to his parents’ farm. I’m not sure why I decided to spend the day at the library in sweatpants and a big plaid shirt, but it turned into a really bad idea when Henning had to work late and there was no time to go to his house to change. We went straight from work to the farm near Edenwold.

I vividly remember Eva, my now mother-in-law, opening the door. I was in awe. She had dark hair and glasses with red frames. She had on a red sweater, a red and black plaid skirt, black nylons, and red high heeled shoes. I turned around and told Henning we need ed to go back to Regina because I needed to change my clothes.

Eva and Knud wouldn’t hear of it. They welcomed me into their house and, as I entered the kitchen, I was blown away for a second time. Eva had set the table in true Danish fashion. There were flowers and candles. There was silverware, fine china, and wine glasses. There was a lace tablecloth and little doilies between the plates. There was even a tiny flagpole with a Danish flag on the table.

Oh my, I felt way out of my league. We had china at home, and it stayed in the china cabinet along with the silverware that my dad won curling. We had flowers from the garden in the summer, but candles? Wine? A flag? This was all new to me.


Part 3 – Shopping with the in-laws

And So, It Begins – Part 3

My apologies for the gap between Parts 1 and 2 and Part 3. I’m a teacher and sometimes, especially in the spring, things get crazy. Here is the continuation about the joys of decorating.

I survived that initial meeting and many more. Henning and I have been married for 21 years. I don’t have any horrible in-law stories to tell. Over the years, I’ve grown very close to Eva and Knud, and now we are getting even closer. Eva and Knud are moving into Prairie Spruce too. They spent 30 wonderful years on their farm, but it was getting to be too much work to keep the house, yard, and garden immaculate.
As I continued to struggle with design choices, I was curious to see what Eva would do. The house on the farm was beautifully decorated with walls of yellow, blue, and shades of terracotta. She made it look easy; she could make decisions. True to form, Eva had a plan. She had a sample of the flooring from the farm and was planning to use that as her inspiration. After a good discussion of their floor plans over tea, we all headed off to Lowes for initial reconnaissance.

I think I overestimated my mother-in-law, but I love her more now. She too struggled with the overwhelming variety of finishes, colors, and hardware. Luckily, we were helped by a wonderful salesperson named Jason. He had a lot of good ideas and was funny too. He was extremely patient and showed us how to line up the samples of flooring, countertop, and cabinets to get a good idea of how they would look together.

By the time we left, Eva had discovered the following. She would like white appliances; Knud discovered that he liked white appliances too. Eva doesn’t need the base cabinets lower, but she wants to see if the builders will install the uppers a bit lower for her. Knud thought that was a good idea. We all agreed that it was time to make an appointment to some professional help. Palandri Cabinets, here we come.

So if you are thinking about joining Prairie Spruce Commons, now is the right time. Everyone is beginning the process of selecting the lighting, cabinets, and flooring for their individual units. It is an exciting time, or so my husband Henning, tells me. This is the first time we are designing our own space. It will be our choice in our community. In the words of Lois Armstrong, “What a wonderful world that will be.”

A Room with a View

It’s yours when you join Prairie Spruce Commons, the unique co-housing condominium where the second and third floor terraces overlook Wascana Park. The terraces become part of your home. You’ll have the best seats in town for the July 1st Fireworks,

Fireworks in Regina (Monique Nenson)

the pageant of the changing seasons, or just a quiet outdoor retreat for you and your friends.

But let’s take a step back. Prairie Spruce Commons is unique as a condominium. It incorporates the features desired by the people who will live there and professionally designed by architects who understand the demands of our Saskatchewan climate. Today we will examine some of the special exterior features of the building and grounds. Next time we will have a look at the interior.
One truly unique feature of our condominium will be the garden. The southwest corner of the lot offers ideal sun exposure and garden growing conditions. Here will be our vegetable garden for the farmer at heart. We are already planning the first community dinner with the fresh produce from our own garden just outside the door.

Cherry Tree
Flowering Cherry Tree (Geoff Evans)

There will be fruit trees. Prairie cherries and apple trees, maybe Saskatoons, choke cherries and haskap berries. What about a raspberry patch? One of our members makes prairie cherry juice that will be perfect for sipping on the deck adjacent to the common area. And don’t get me started on the Saskatoon pies or choke cherry syrup on pancakes.
Of course there will be community composting to nourish the soil and minimise our footprint on the earth.
These are a few of the special outside features of our building that I look forward to. Won’t you join me for a glass of homemade prairie berry juice?


Coffee Party – Monday August 8th – Naked Bean


Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Being both a Star Trek and tea fan, this line has always appealed to me.

I have spent a lifetime, “going for coffee” with friends and family. At first, I would order coffee, just to be polite and to fit in, but I soon realized that I don’t like coffee and it feels the same way about me. I finally know that I can still be a proud Canadian without a “double-double” in my hand.

But I’m still going to a coffee party next week and you should come too. I’d invite you to a tea party but then you would have all sorts of ideas – frilly dresses, big hats and porcelain cups, and pinkies in the air. This is a coffee party – you can dress and hold your cup however you want.

By Kate Greenaway  via Wikimedia Commons
By Kate Greenaway via Wikimedia Commons

You are invited to a coffee party on Monday, August 8th at the Naked Bean Expresso Bar and Cafe (2505 Broad Street) from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Members of Prairie Spruce Commons will be there to answer any questions you have about the project, show you the plans for the remaining units, and even give you a tour of the site.

What am I having at the coffee party?

Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

RSVP by emailing and we’ll even buy your coffee

Our email address is


Ask and Ye shall receive

I married into a Danish family. My in-laws and husband were all born in Denmark. Despite living in Canada for 40 years, they still maintain many Danish traditions. Most of my favorites involve food.  I have been introduced to smørrebrød – open faced sandwiches that must be eaten with a knife and fork. I have come to love herring and the occasional shot of aquavit. There is always risalamande (rice pudding with almonds) at Christmas.

Saskatchewan Cherries
Saskatchewan Cherries

It is usually topped with cherry pie filling, but last year it was topped with homemade cherry preserves. It was amazing. Tart cherry goodness mixed with creamy rice sweetness, this was something that I had to learn how to make.

Making cherry preserves is not that easy. It takes a lot of work to pick and pit the cherries. So I asked the other members of Prairie Spruce to give us a hand. Not only did we get Prairie Spruce members out, we even got some friends of cohousing out to pick. There were seven of us picking cherries.

Ann, friend of Prairie Spruce
Ann, friend of Prairie Spruce

Ann told us about picking cherries at boarding school in England. She said they were let into the fenced in an orchard and not allowed out until all the cherries were picked.


Henning looking for bugs
Henning inspecting his pickings

Henning was a bit slower than Ann as his pail didn’t have a handle.  I don’t think he had quite as much experience picking berries either.

It didn’t take long for the cherry trees to be stripped bare.  Then we moved onto the other berries that needed to be picked. Murray and James picked a gallon or two of saskatoons and Knud picked raspberries.

Knud, Murray, and James
Knud, Murray, and James

The afternoon ended with tea and ice cream with fresh raspberries for all. Murray took home the saskatoons, hopefully, to make one of his famous fruit crisps. Eva had two huge bowls of cherries, ready to be pitted. I helped pit, but she was so much faster with her hairpin.

Ready to pit
Ready to pit

Sharing is one of the core values of Prairie Spruce Commons.

We share the workload.

We share what we grow, create, build and brew.

We share the fun.




Prairie Spruce as a Community – Part 2 of 2

Here is part two of a two-part series on community by Ann.

Community in the Future

The members of Prairie Spruce Commons are eagerly looking forward to moving into the condominium-style building on Badham Boulevard.

North east view
North-east view

After years of preparation, having personal and private space within a shared facility will finally be a reality.  The excellent location will mean that downtown appointments, a bus to the university, or a stroll through Wascana Park are all within easy walking distance.

Erik, help, the WiFi is down.

Morning coffee with a neighbour can be shared in the lounge or at a nearby coffeehouse, and an evening cribbage game is just down the hall.  Guests will be welcome to use one of two guest rooms.  Resources will be shared.  Need a wheelbarrow?  Look in the garden shed. Need help with a computer glitch?  Consult a neighbour who has computer expertise.

Have a yen for perogies?  Ask some friends to meet you in the common kitchen for a cooking bee.  Prairie Spruce residents will be secure in the knowledge that someone will check in when they are sick and pet-sit their dog when they are away for the weekend.

Mannie is a dream to pet-sit.


Cohousing and community are a perfect fit.



Prairie Spruce as a Community – Part 1 of 2

Here is part one of a two-part series on community by Ann.

Community Defined

Community is a popular word in society today.  Many of the meanings attributed to the term apply to Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing and its interpretation of community.

Sharing Cherries

The Prairie Spruce community describes a group of people with shared goals, attitudes, and interests.  A self-organized network, this group has a common agenda and is committed to working collaboratively.  Diverse individual characteristics contribute to the strength of the group and enrich the attachment among the members.

Upon completion of the structure on Badham Boulevard in 2017, the community will live together – a neighbourhood within a building, a part of the larger community of Canterbury Park.

Prairie Spruce Commons
The building is only a small part of Prairie Spruce Commons


Community Now

After working together for the past five years, the members of Prairie Spruce Commons have already formed a strong sense of community.  The shared purpose of coming together to design and build the property on Badham Boulevard is an obvious starting point.   Sharing the workload among standing and ad hoc committees is essential.

Consensus at work.

Collaborative decision-making ensures that each member of every household has an opportunity to express an opinion, to voice a concern, or to contribute a suggestion.   Lively discussion leads to informed choices and strong commitments.  Formed by an awareness of each personality and an appreciation of the individual, enduring friendships are made.


While achieving results in this enormous project has been hard work, the work has been filled with humour and fun.  In anticipation of the meals that will be prepared and eaten in the common house after move-in, the group has been eating a meal together once a month since the early days of the project.  The need to downsize has resulted in joint garage sales – more shared work, more shared fun – with the proceeds going towards the purchase of equipment for the common kitchen.  Birthdays, graduations, retirements, sickness among community members or the loss of a family member have been reasons to celebrate or commiserate as a group.  The Prairie Spruce community has been established.

The Loft: A Bird’s Eye View

In the final re-design of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing, a unique loft suite (779 sq ft) has been added above the common house in the northwest corner of the building.  This suite is suitable for a single person or a couple.  Let’s tour the suite.  Take the elevator in the lobby or the front staircase to the second floor and meet in the corridor.

Welcome to Suite 208.  This unit has ready access from both the elevator and the stairs.  The door on the left in the alcove just outside the threshold opens to the heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for this unit.  Ahead is the living room (12’-8” x 11’-6”), with three dormer windows facing west on the outside wall.  A closet with an overhead shelf and rod is located just inside the entry door, and the stairs to the loft are beside the closet.


As you turn to your right, the living room opens into the dining room (16’-9” x 8’-9”).  There are two windows facing north on the outside wall.  To take advantage of the space under the eaves on the west wall, a storage space (12’-9” x 2’-5”) has been created.  A storage closet (5’-7” x 2’-10”) is also tucked under the stairs.

Another right turn from the dining room leads into the kitchen (10’-4” x 12’-6”) and the adjacent bathroom (5’-0” x 9’6”).  The kitchen counter wraps around the north and east walls.  There are two windows facing north on the outside wall, with the sink located under the windows.  The stove and refrigerator are on the east wall.  Cupboard space is provided above and below the counter, and there is a pull-out pantry beside the refrigerator.  The bathroom has a vanity sink, toilet, and tub with shower.   Washroom walls are blocked for grab bars that can be added in the future.

The stairs to the loft are centrally located in the suite, just off the living room.  At the top of the stairs on the left, a mezzanine railing follows the line from the stairs to the north wall and opens to the living and dining room below.   The bedroom (11’-4’ x 9’-8”) fills the space above the kitchen.  Two windows face north on the outside wall.  The bedroom also includes a generous walk-in closet (4’0” x 9’4”).

With its corner location, this suite has an element of privacy but is also handy to the shared common kitchen, laundry room, and guest room on the main floor.  Additional storage space is available on the parking level, and both parking and storage have convenient elevator access.

If you are looking for a character condominium suite, a building that is designed for sustainability, and neighbours who are dedicated to environmental awareness and community living, Suite 208 might be the place for you.