Welcome Friends of CherryHill!
While going for walks past the 104 acre property that is now Cherry Hill Living, Harry and Joan Fehr, that’s us, fell in love with the romantic aspect of owning this property. It had a creek running through it, a long windy driveway, a 50 year old hip roof barn, and a gravel pit. At the time, it was overgrown and remote, but was a hidden gem waiting for a future.
The Ridge Trail
The property was smack in the middle of a ridge. An old trail wound its way along the top of the ridge all the way from Steinbach to Giroux. The trail emerged from the south at site 113, progressed past the internet tower and right through the new house, then continued along the present driveway – crossing over the road to Quarry Oaks in the same fashion. In the early days of the last century it was used as the primary road, or rather trail, for the supply wagons and horses to load up at the train station in Giroux and bring supplies back to Steinbach, conveniently making its way through farmsteads along the route. As a young man, Joan’s grandfather, Peter H.W. Reimer, made this trip for their H.W. Reimer stores and businesses. There were farmsteads and wells along this route to rest and allow the horses to drink.
Cherry Hill was originally homesteaded by the Wiens family. The original farmhouse was on the east side of the driveway across from the barn where the turnaround and small parking area is now located. The farmhouse burned down and the new ranch house was built by Abe and Myna (nee Wiens) Warkentine.
The barn was built in 1945 by Mr. Henry Wiens and a group of local expert barn builders (Kornelsons from Ridgewood), using indigenous trees and their onsite sawmill. They did an amazing job being as the barn was still standing, while most of the barns that age were collapsing and falling apart. They designed and built the roof in a way that as it aged, it never sagged and so withstood the test of time. It was built on a gravel ridge so the foundation is still the original.
Old Bear Pond
At the corner where the drive turns sharply into the RV Park and crosses the Manning Canal (creek) was a pond. Before the two large culverts were installed in order to prevent washouts to the driveway, the spring runoff water collected forming this huge pond where bear and deer came to drink. In the old days it became known as “the old bear pond”.
Berries on the Ridge
The ridge was prolific with berries. My dad told me stories of how he walked all the way from Steinbach as a young boy to hunt and pick berries on the ridge. There were and still are some chokecherries, pin cherries, and blue berries for making delicious pies, jams and jellies.
It is interesting how life came full circle, as in his later years, Joan’s dad built a little cabin beside the Old Bear Pond on the property. He called all his camps “Camp Chimo” and dubbed this one as well. He spent many hours in nature and visited it every day in the summer, fed the squirrels, walked in the bush and held many legion venison fries. The cabin is still there, made from only salvaged materials. It remains there for his friends and family to visit whenever they wish.
So the ridge and property have a history, a present, and a future.
While developing Quarry Oaks Golf Course across the road bordering the northern property line, we first started renting the house in the early 90s. Then were finally able to purchase the Cherry Hill property in 1998.
Slowly we started restoring the barn, replacing the upper floor with wide barn boards milled at a special one man sawmill because they were not manufactured anymore. The cow gutters were removed and fresh cement poured, wood burning pizza oven and barbeques were built. The locally famous mason, Ralph Krentz, freely offered his expertise in building the brick ovens that are still in perfect condition. Both the bars and furnishings were purchased at auction from the former “Mother Tucker’s” restaurant and bar in the old Masonic Temple building in downtown Winnipeg.
At the same time we started clearing the overgrown areas of the property, manicuring it, and enjoying the lifestyle. The gravel pit was revived and in the process, a much larger and deeper spring fed lake was formed. When the gravel was completely removed, the lakeside was landscaped and beautified into the park like setting you see today.
In 2005 we opened “Harry’s Bar” in the barn and the first 35 sites on the west side of the lake in the RV Park. The first site holder was Jim Henderson, a Steinbach lawyer, site 16. He plunked a wad of cash down onto the bar consisting of a thousand dollars and we were open for business.
Sean and Janice
Our son and daughter in law, Sean Fehr and Janice Froese, and their three daughters Carollyne, Sarah, and Mercedes worked and developed the property, including the restaurant, bar, and wedding facilities, until their family expanded into other areas. Their construction business, Fresh Projects, exploded in size and they moved their offices to Winnipeg. They remain an integral part of the business, but not on a daily basis as before. Carollyne went to University, got married to Brad Kehler, and moved to the Rocking K Ranch southeast of Steinbach. Sarah went to University and moved to Victoria.
Lee and Danielle
In 2014, we invited our son Lee Fehr, and his partner Danielle Denis from Vancouver to join us at Cherry Hill and help us in the operations. Lee has many years of experience in the construction field and now handles the maintenance at the hill. Danielle has many years of experience in community service administration and joins us in administration and bookkeeping at Cherry Hill. Lee and Danielle were very excited to move from downtown Vancouver to the country, and love their new lifestyle at the hill. They are a welcome asset to Cherry Hill as we move into the next phase.
As for the future and the next phase, we have many plans to share. We plan to move ahead slowly, one step at a time, and hope you will join the great Cherry Hill community and grow with us. Read more about our plans in our Blog article titled “Creating A Village.”
With Kind Regards,
Harry and Joan Fehr