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Unforgettable Forget

forget 400.jpgSoundXchange is on a road trip to Forget, Saskatchewan, a tiny town (pop. @40) with an even tinier shrine, an art house, a restaurant and concert hall, a Big Red acoustic music centre and summer camp, a top of the line guitar store, a labryinth, beautiful, soulful people commited to a vision, and lots and lots of bees.

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 The Happy Nun


(From Don and Shannon Shakotko)

The Happy Nun Cafe & Music was born from Shannon and Don to create a third place (somewhere outside of work and home) where people could gather to share the important things of life.

The Happy Nun is part of an idea cabal affectionately known as timshel, a Hebrew expression which loosely translates as 'you may.' Timshel represents God's greatest gift to humankind, that of free will. We interpret timshel to mean 'the way is open' for us to choose whatever road that inspires us and to pursue it with passion.

Timshel gives us the courage and confidence to try all sorts of things that fit with our mission to promote and encourage faith, art and leadership and to find ways to make our corner of the world brighter. Over the years, we have found several vehicles that allow us to bring these values to life

1. The Ananda Arthouse began in our house ( a former Catholic rectory) as a way for us to promote and encourage the arts, faith, and leadership in Southeast Saskatchewan.

2. The Happy Nun Cafe emerged when our Arthouse could no longer physically accommodate the scope of our mission. Ananda now uses this venue for almost all of our concerts.

3. The Inn of the Seven Sisters came out of our need to nurture artists and pilgrims passing through our village. We offer three beautifully appointed rooms, an excellent home-cooked breakfast and access to one of the finest private libraries in the province.

The Library

4. St. Ambrose Apiary is a strong symbol of our commitment to caring for our environment. Our noble 'ladies' produce fine small-batch honey which we bottle untreated and direct from the comb. We also offer limited quantities of specialty honey which has been infused with herbs grown in our garden.

Honey Harvest

5. The Meditative Tree Walk, originally conceived and constructed by the French Sisters who founded the Convent at Forget, is currently being restored. We trust that this beautiful area will be a source of spiritual refreshment for many.

A wise man once said, 'when you come to a fork in the road, take it.' I think those words of wisdom apply quite well to our idea of timshel. The way is open for each of us, the roads are endless. Our task as human beings is to choose (that's faith), act (that's the arts), and take responsibility for the choice (and that's leadership).

Is there really a Happy Nun?

Well, depends on who you ask. If you asked one of the seven sisters who originally came to Forget from France at the turn of the last century as they stepped off the train in the middle of a prairie winter with nothing but their linen habits for warmth...I wonder. If you asked one of the students who sat under their tutelage, you would probably be told that they were strict, not so much happy.

These Sister's of the Cross raised the funds and built St. Joseph's Academy & Convent in three stages, culminating in the large chapel erected directly across from the Our Lady of LaSalette Church. When we put in our vegetable garden we were told that the nun's had their garden in the same spot (surely a good sign!), and that a Sister Augusta was the chief cook and gardener. We haven't discovered anything else about her, but in my mind she was the happiest among them all.

When we decided to open a cafe, we were going to call it the Alma Street Cafe, and for good reason. Our marriage proposal happened at the Alma Street Cafe, a quaint little jazz place, in Vancouver, B.C. (flying back to Vancouver to celebrate an anniversary several years later ended in disappointment that the Alma Street Cafe had been paved over into a parking lot). Forget was originally called Alma for the first postmaster's daughter. Alma was located a couple of miles north east of the present village of Forget until the rail line came through precipitating the change in location and name (Forget is named after Saskatchewan's first Lieutenant Governor, Amadeus Etienne Forget). The street north of the Happy Nun Cafe running east and west is Alma. Good reasons indeed.

Then Shannon had a dream about the cafe. It was full of people laughing, clearly enjoying the food and wine. It seemed like a delightful place to be, the decor, the food, the conversations―all were animated and joy-filled. The name of the place in the dream was the Happy Nun Cafe. And that was that.

Who knew, when the local farmers built a huge granary (a drive-thru at that!), which got moved and turned into the parish hall (students at the convent remember movie nights), which got moved and turned into the community hall (wedding dances, Christmas concerts, parish lunches, more dances), that we would be entrusted with carrying on the legacy of this building providing our best offering of food, drink and entertainment? I think Sister Augusta would have been happy to know that we are here still gardening and cooking.


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Village Music


Thursday - 2:00 - 6:00 pm

Friday - 2:00 - 6:00 pm

Saturday - 2:00 - 6:00 pm

 or when you need it by appointment.....(306) 457-2426 or (306) 457-2416


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The Big Red House: This is a place in Forget where acoustic music rules. There are lessons, acoustic concerts, lawn jams and each year Michele Amy and Will Elliott (above) host the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, a music camp open to all ages during the summer. World class musicians teach fiddle, guitar, mandolin, piano, banjo, and in past year even the cello.