New life for Saskatchewan hamlet
The sight of people living in Baljennie, Sask., has surprised many folks driving by.
"You can count to about 10 and you see them turning around they come back and they say 'I didn't know anybody lived out here,'" Cecilia Parkinson said.
That's because nobody did, until the Parkinsons bought one of the town's old houses last May. When they moved to Baljennie, the hamlet about 100 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon had been virtually empty for decades — a ghost town.
The last business was shuttered in 1991 and three years later a devastating fire wiped out the long-vacant general store and the empty Anglican Church. Only the old post office and a few houses remained.
Warren Parkinson grew up in the area and had been living with his wife Cecilia in Martensville, just north of Saskatoon when they bought a piece of Baljennie last May as a retirement home.
"I love living in the country," Cecilia said. "It's quiet and it's peaceful. You can go out with your camera and you can find all kinds of wildlife to take pictures of."
The rebirth of the hamlet has been a family affair. After they moved in, the Parkinsons bought properties for their two adult sons, who now live next door.
Warren says it didn't take much convincing.
"I just mentioned it and everyone was there," Parkinson laughed.
The Parkinson clan won't have Baljennie to themselves for long. They'll soon be joined by a North Battleford man who is building a house in the now booming hamlet.