The tiny village of Forget has long been known as a hub for arts and culture in southeast Saskatchewan, and now the community is gaining some national attention.
Canadian Living Magazine listed the community of 42 residents as one of 20-plus small towns and villages in Canada that people need to visit. Forget is the only community under 100 people to be included in the article, which came out in mid-December.
There are two communities listed from each province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which have one community each. There are also two communities listed for the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Gravelbourg is the other Saskatchewan community to crack the list.
Gayla Gilbertson and her husband Leon operate the Happy Nun Café in Forget. The restaurant is among the attractions to be mentioned in the article.
She said the village has a lot of history, and at one time, was larger than Stoughton, the neighbouring community to the west. Now Stoughton, with nearly 700 people, has more than 15 times the population of Forget.
But there’s still a strong history to Forget, Gilbertson said, and it has strong French and Catholic roots. The community was settled by nuns who built a convent in the village. A Roman Catholic church still operates in the community.
“Now the community has turned into an area where we’re very much rural Saskatchewan, but there’s many so many artists and musicians, and there’s a love of creativity in the community, and I think that’s what sets people off when they come here,” said Gilbertson. “It feels different driving into town.”
People who come in the summer or eat at the restaurant feel like they’re coming home to Forget, she said, even if it’s their first time there.
“It’s very welcoming, and then it creates these really cool experiences that stand out in your mind, because it’s a little bit different,” said Gilbertson.
Ken Hamm, a Juno Award-winning guitar player, lives in the community. So does Michele Amy, the founder and operator of the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, which is a popular music camp every summer. Two bands also reside in the community, and other residents are very creative.
“Because everybody’s creating all the time and very open to new ideas, you get this very welcoming community, because they want to hear everybody’s experiences and stories, and when you meet at the beginning, you’re strangers, and when you leave, you feel like you’ve known each other for years,” she said.
A group from Florida who performed at the Happy Nun a couple of years ago even wrote a song about Forget because they enjoyed the experience so much.
Gilbertson has been in Forget for seven years. Her husband was raised in the village, and his family has been in the community for generations. The Gilbertsons purchased the Happy Nun Café in 2017, after working with the previous owner, Katelin Vinge, who died in a vehicle collision earlier that year.
Since the restaurant is in an older building, many of the customers remember what it used to be.
“Over the course of its lifetime, the Happy Nun has seen everything – weddings, funerals, anniversaries, proposals, and just a good old town hall dance,” said Gilbertson. “It’s all been there at some point.”
Gilbertson believes the village is a hidden gem. People don’t expect to find this great arts community when they turn onto a grid road off of Highway 13. But then they arrive in the village, and that’s when the magic happens.
She was surprised to find out that Forget cracked the top 20 of the Canadian Living list, but people who come to the village understand its charm. She hopes the article will increase people’s awareness.
“You don’t need to travel to the city to have these experiences,” said Guilbertson. “In southeast Saskatchewan, there are places nearby with good food and good music. The musicians who live here in town not only do they perform at the Nun, but they perform outside of here as well, all throughout the province and nationwide.”