The village of Saskatchewan lives up to its name with its new chapel


LOVE, SASK. – A small village in Saskatchewan wants to spread the word about love by becoming a unique wedding destination.

“Everyone should be in love at least once in their life,” says Marvin Torwalt, known as the resident love historian, with a broad smile.

The Village of Love lives up to its name with a new wedding chapel. It gives couples the opportunity to share their love in Love.

The village, northeast of Saskatoon, with a population of 72, had received letters and requests for years from feisty lovers looking to tie the knot. The ideas for Love spread and streets were renamed Lover's Lane, Valentine Avenue and Hearts Delight Street.

People from all over the world traveled to the community after Cupid's strike, but there was no official place for them to exchange vows.

Mayor Shelley Vallier says a few years ago they decided to go a step further and fully embrace the passion of their namesake.

“I want to transform the village into a village of love,” says Vallier.

Through a lot of hard work, donations, fundraising and the generosity of current and former residents, this vision is becoming a reality.

As Love looks to the future, it is inextricably linked to the region's rich past.

The chapel building was an old Canadian Pacific Railway sleeping hut from nearby Choiceland that was donated. It was gutted and repainted. There is a donated bell from the Canadian National Railway in the church tower.

The benches, which seat 50 people, were purchased from a church in Prince Albert, west of the village.

Vallier says the project cost more than $65,000, but promoting love in Love is worth every penny. One wedding has already taken place and another is planned for May.

But Love didn't always focus on the name, Torwalt says.

The village emerged in the early 1930s when families further south sought shelter from the effects of the Great Depression. Sawmills emerged from the ground, bringing with them farms and households looking for opportunity and affordable land.

The population would eventually peak at about 250 people, with two general stores, a hotel, a pool bar, gas stations, an insurance office, and a few cafes.

According to local tradition, there are two origins of the village name. A young woman was working in the kitchen of a mill and fell head over heels in love with one of the workers. A railway employee spotted the couple and called the Love Siding community.

“They must have been the talk of the town that they were nice to each other,” Vallier says with a laugh.

The other story, which is more true, is that Tom Love was the first train conductor to come through when the station was built.

Documents show the community was called “Love Siding” in the 1930s, but was officially called “Love” when it was founded in 1945.

As the area's lumber industry began to decline, people moved elsewhere and businesses closed for many decades.

But the love of love always remained.

People with family connections to the area still help the village, be it building the chapel or hosting annual festivals at the campsite.

In recent years the population has actually increased and children are running through the quiet streets again.

“This is one of the few cities I know that is stabilizing or growing a little,” Torwalt says.

“It takes dedication.”

Even though love is the core value, there are challenges. The village recently learned it will need to replace the roof of its community hall, which will cost about $100,000. Plans for a bridal suite, stone walkway and other romantic venues are on hold until funds can be allocated.

Although there are some hurdles, the village will still do everything they can to celebrate love.

At the local post office, Connie Black excitedly pulls out letters she's received from people who want a special love stamp on their wedding invitations, Valentine's cards or notes to that special someone. There is a world map on the wall with stickers marking the places from which they have received letters.

It's a great honor, she says, to be able to play a small role in so many love stories.

“That is so cool.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press