A Special Club In The Country

Chester for article

As featured in The Chronicle Herald.

There are renderings and floor plans. Architectural schemes and landscape designs. Tables, lists, drawings and maps – so many ways to learn about an exciting new development like Forest Lakes Country Club. But the best, most meaningful and effective way is to just go there yourself.

It’s that easy. And that’s what I did.

Turning left off Highway 1 in Ardoise, just past Lakelands, you first encounter the Welcome Lodge. This building is as inviting as any home, but is, in fact, a welcoming introduction to the amazing lifestyle one can experience in Forest Lakes. Designed by Linwood Homes, built by Lindsay Construction, with interiors by Design 360 and furnishings from Attica Furniture, it is a glimpse of the quality craftsmanship and fun details offered by homes in Forest Lakes.

The Post and Beam design takes advantage of the beauty of the natural wood, while as much natural light as possible illuminates the great room, bathing the European styling with warmth.

The Welcome Lodge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with resort concierge, Deb Xidos, there to answer any questions. In fact, on the same day I visited, there were two families who had come from a little further away than me to see Forest Lakes. One from the UAE, the other from Austria. And according to Kristi Wenaus, vice-president of sales and marketing at Forest Lakes, such visits are not out of the ordinary.

“We consistently host visitors from all over the world who have heard about the Forest Lakes community and wish to see it for themselves,” says Wenaus. “This community is shaping up to be a fabulous mix of cultures from all over the world who can’t wait to live in this gorgeous slice of Canada. I would say at least 30 per cent of those who have purchased lots or are building homes are from outside of the country.”

Leaving The Lodge, Kristi and I drive down Eagle View Drive – the main artery of the community. There are no homes on this road; instead the different neighbourhoods are on subsidiary roads, so that when you travel straight through the community it truly feels like the resort it is. What does run off the main road are some of the walking trails (woodland paths for walking) and the multi-use trails (a bit wider and accessible by golf cart).

Kristi, my guide for the day, takes me to one of the onsite resource management stations. These are areas of the developing community where organic material is separated, topsoil is sifted, and trees are ground – creating the mulch chips that are used on the trails. We also visit the quarry, where gravel is crushed and used on site.

“We could have rock and gravel trucked in from other parts of the province,” says Wenaus. “But this was the more environmentally beneficial option. Not only is it a cost saving, but it’s good for the community and good for the planet.”

During the process, a deep lake was created. The planners quickly realized this would be ideal for the horses to use – so a change of plans occurred and they moved the equestrian area to this part of the community.

Plans change at Forest Lakes according to what makes sense – and often according to what is beautiful or simply because it is the right thing to do. Not because of cost savings. Quite the opposite.

Case in point, the main road now takes a curve. Originally it was planned to continue straight ahead, but a regal yellow birch was too lovely for the planner to sacrifice. So he changed the plans. Which is not always the easiest thing to do – but it’s the right thing. And that’s what’s important to the people of Forest Lakes.

One of the surprises for me was the variety of elevations in the community. The neighbourhoods have very different personalities, yet are cohesive at the same time. As we drive around I can picture children, in the near future, riding their bikes from one neighbourhood to the next.

We stop at The Boathouse and I want to stay there. Forever. It reminded me of days spent on the lakes of my youth – complete with the dock jutting out into the water, begging to be jumped from. If only I had brought my suit.

The Boathouse itself is simply delightful with a hearth and fireplace perfect for marshmallow roasting and hot chocolate sipping. Harvest tables and Adirondack-style chairs (made from felled wood from the community) are asking to be sat at with a good book and maybe a sandwich or two. I’m filled with nostalgia but also impressed with the craftsmanship and modern construction and planning. I learn that the Forest Lakes condominiums will be built only a five-minute stroll from this magical area.

I make a personal note to come back in a few months to follow up on this.

Next we “swing” by the golf course. Forest Lakes Country Club will offer the first Nicklaus Design golf course in Atlantic Canada, offering top-of-the-range facilities for residents and the local golfing community. There are several people working on the course as we pass by.

I couldn’t end my visit to Forest Lakes without checking out a few of the homes. I visited three styles, all very different, all very inviting.

First, we toured through the Martock, a 1,600 sq. ft. semi-detached home with modern architectural design, exposed beams and massive windows and a tiered covered porch that to me, steals the show. Then, a short drive down the road, I viewed the Cape North, – a 1,970 sq. ft., three-bedroom, two-bath bungalow with a double garage. Definitely a home designed for both function and fun.

And around the corner from there, we visited the Chester. At 3.321 sq. ft., this a home for a family who likes to entertain. It has four bedrooms, three and a half baths and a double garage. And this home offers something truly unique – two master bedrooms, each with its own walk-in closet and ensuite, on opposite wings of the house – ideal for guests or in-laws.

No matter the style of home chosen or built, no matter condo, townhome or free standing, there is one thing for certain. Living in Forest Lakes feels like living in nature. Trees are removed only to 15 ft. of the perimeter of the lots – just enough to get the machinery around. The planners and developers take great care to remove as few as possible.

There is no doubt that Forest Lakes Country Club is indeed like living in a special club in the country. I leave the community feeling a little sad that I must drive back to the city and leave behind the sound of the wind in the trees, the lapping lake and the smell of freshly turned earth. Then I remember my plan to come back soon to check on those condos.