Some of Ryan Malloy’s best memories from growing up happened at Baptiste Lake, just west of Athabasca. It’s where he spent entire summers with his cousins swimming, fishing and enjoying the fresh air. His wife, Karley, had a similar experience growing up at her family’s place in Alberta Beach. After they married, their extended families regularly vacationed together at different rented cabins in British Columbia. Great times were had, but, Ryan says, “We kind of thought, for the amount of money that costs, if we took three years’ worth of those vacations, that would be enough for a deposit on a nice place.”
They wanted something on a big lake near Edmonton, and found a largely overgrown three-lot property on Pigeon Lake.
“We evaluated a bunch of master builders and custom builders and found Josh Marchand of Marchand Construction, and that’s kind of how the process began,” Ryan explains.
The families took about four months to design a place that could comfortably fit all 10 adults and nine children. Ryan admits there were “definitely a lot of chefs in the kitchen” as far as who wanted what, but everyone is happy with the finished product. There was consensus on the A-frame full of big windows, but other things, like the wood-burning fireplace, took some negotiation.
“I was totally against having a wood-burning fireplace because I thought it would be way more trouble than it’s worth. But [brother-in-law] Luke kind of fought for it, and Josh had a great idea for the hearth, and now it’s one of our favourite elements. The fire smell is such a key element to cabin life.”
Their patience resulted in a 2,700 square foot, Scandinavian inspired house, with structural and foundational steel throughout, that is part cabin, part home. It’s a beautiful upgrade on the old Alberta Beach property, and will generate memories for generations to come.
A NEW HOME
Nina and Troy Emes grew up on the B.C. coast, met, married and moved to Alberta with a plan to stay for about three years. Today, 27 years later, they’re still here, happy in the landlocked prairies.
Neither had cabin properties growing up, but the ocean was always a nearby escape. While living in St. Albert, the couple enjoyed long weekend drives to surrounding areas, including Lac Ste. Anne County, where they discovered The Estates at Waters Edge on the north shore. Four blocks of full-fledged homes surround a lakeside pool. There are boat launches, and, because the streets are terraced, each home has at least a partial lake view.
“We both grew up with the ocean, so it was important to be able to see water,” Nina says.
The couple built a three-bedroom, walk-out bungalow with a large covered deck, big panel windows and a gourmet kitchen (“a must, for me,” Nina says). White birch and aspen poplar trees border the property, providing privacy without obstructing the lake view.
“When we first saw it a long time ago, it was actually just a campsite. But we always said it would be a great place to retire,” Nina says. But they couldn’t wait that long, and by then the gated community had become particularly appealing. “We’d been watching it develop for quite a few years. And we were thinking about coming out here even earlier, but we decided to finish raising our kids, and then we bought out here after they were all done college.”