When we moved to Saskatoon, we wanted to be within walking distance of downtown, in a character house. The trouble was, we couldn’t afford skyrocketing prices in Broadway/Nutana. Nor could we afford the homes a few blocks from the university. We lucked out with Buena Vista.
The neighbourhood is a three-minute drive from downtown. It’s about a twenty minute walk from the new River Landing development, and the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market. Around our home, we frequently see neighbours out walking, often with their kids or dogs in tow. In the warm months, lilacs, mature trees and gardens create a striking atmosphere for pedestrians and cyclists. Buena Vista Park and its playground are gems in the summer months. The Saskatoon Lawn Bowling Club is also located there, holding regular “junior nights” aimed at anyone under the age of fifty each summer.
Living in “BV”, it’s hard to get much closer to Saskatoon’s river trails for walking, running, in-line skating and biking. Those trails stretch from the Exhibition grounds, all the way north along the South Saskatchewan river. On the far west side of the area you’ll find the Saskatoon Hilltops Junior Football club and their practice field, alongside several baseball diamonds. This sports park is largely fenced, which makes it a favourite for dogs and their humans.
A warning: Buena Vista is not the place to find cookie-cutter houses. No two blocks look alike. The area was established in the early 1900s, but it took another 30 years to fill in most of the lots. Edwardian character homes sit next to Depression-era bungalows, wartime houses, and more modern infill homes. A number of the older homes have undergone additions or substantial renovations, as has the area’s only school. Residents nickname Buena Vista elementary school “The Castle on the Hill”. This three-storey brick landmark on Lorne Avenue underwent a significant restoration in 2003. Generations of Saskatoonians have gone to school there, and it creates a magnificent centrepiece for the neighbourhood.
For a last-minute grocery or snack run, it’s hard to beat Lorne Avenue Drugs, and the Pelican Market, at Lorne Avenue and Taylor Street. The Pelican Market is independently-owned, and is stocked with fresh produce, baking, and dairy products. This family-run convenience store also includes a well-provisioned dollar store and a dry-cleaning drop off service. A few blocks up Lorne Avenue, Tastebuds serves up coffee, desserts, and a delicious lunch menu. Its outdoor patio is an ideal spot for people-watching. Buena Vista is within a comfortable walking and cycling distance to shops and bars in both the Broadway area, and downtown. (Luckily, the area is just far enough to be past “stumbling distance” for drunks).
One of the best things about living in this historic east-side neighbourhood is the sense of community. Admittedly, this is not not Saskatoon’s most affluent neighbourhood. Rather, it’s one where families of all sizes, ages, and backgrounds come together, and where residents take pride in their homes, gardens and yards. The houses here are built close enough together that it’s hard not to get to know your neighbours, or to see a familiar face passing by. Buena Vista residents tend to quietly watch out for each other, infusing this neighbourhood with a sense of honesty, dignity and pride.