Our Journey to the Church
Rick and I met in November of 2001. We were set up by a mutual friend who obviously had great instincts. It didn't take long to realize how much we had in common. One of both of our greatest passions has always been antiques. We soon purchased our first house together. It was a 1910 built, four square farm house known as the Shannon house. Named after the family that built it and many others in Olds, Alberta. The home was destined for demolition as it had been purchased for its commercial land value. Rick masterminded the relocation of this 3 story beauty to our acreage just outside of Sundre. It took 12 hours to make the 42 kilometer journey and was seen and photographed by hundreds of people who came out to see this beloved building head off to its new location and life. This was the beginning of our “That’s a lot of work.” projects.
This was not however the first building relocated and/or refurbished by Rick. His first restoration project was part of a family business. In 1996 he bought a 1913 store in Irvine, AB and breathed new life into it. This is when a keen interest in renovating old buildings became a passion. Soon he was helping move heritage buildings to the local museum grounds to bring them back to their former glory. Many years of being a Jack of all Trades and being coached by talented mentors, he made the seemingly impossible projects happen.
I can’t say that my encounters with old buildings have been as interesting as Rick's. While they have always been my pleasure to photograph, paint and sketch, I had to that point only been involved with the new construction industry in which I drew on my Art and Design background. Turning my attention to restoration was a natural progression.
After putting our blood, sweat and tears into our Shannon house, Rick and I were married there in 2004. We then designed and built a new home in the Sundre area. It was then that our pursuit of the Church property actually began. That was in 2009. Like a lot of people in the area, we watched as this historic building sat empty and began to deteriorate with dismay. After failing to acquire the property then, we sold our Sundre acreage in 2011 and bought, renovated a home in Cochrane. Rick and I had just about finished that project when we learned that the Church property was once again a viable option for us. It took only two days to make it happen and so in May of 2013, we were off and running again. We finished the Cochrane house and went to work in Water Valley. Cleaning, restoring and renovating took just under a year and we were able to open our doors of our new Events Centre in time to host an amazing Kim Wempe concert on February 6, 2014. It was then that we decided that we wanted to be a part of the Water Valley Community full time. We finished renovations of our small home in this tiny “town” and moved in April of 2014.
Restoring the former “Christ the King” church has been a labour of love. We are happy to be able to share this beautiful space with the community, friends and family and look forward to seeing all the amazing possibilities happen here in its new life.
Kristine Sarsons - 2014