By Woodard, Dale on August 29, 2020.
An historic house with connections to Lethbridge is on the market in Lundbreck.
Just under a month ago, the house on 446.7 acres of land in the Crowsnest Pass belonging to Bill and Shirley Sara went up for sale.
But the history behind the three-storey house began in Lethbridge at the turn of the 20th century and involves the city’s namesake.
The house was originally built in 1904 for John Lethbridge – the nephew of Sir William Lethbridge – and was located at 1233 4 Ave. S.
When Galko Homes purchased the land to build a 75-suite apartment complex over 40 years ago, Bill and Shirley Sara purchased the home in 1978 and relocated it to nearly 450 acres of land in the Rocky Mountain Foothills along the Crowsnest River.
“We never did see inside the house,” said Bill of the Þve-bedroom, three-bathroom, turn-of-the-century home. “Shirley was informed by one of her girlfriends about it and they went by and had a look. Shirley ended up buying it from Marvin Galt for $5,000. She said it was $5,000 and a handshake.”
The Saras were living in Coleman at the time where Bill was practising medicine when they bought the land near Lundbreck.
“We didn’t have any specific plans,” said Bill. “We probably thought we would build a house out there, but this changed our plans when we found the 1904 house with an invitation to move it.”
Bill said at the time of the purchase, he and Shirley knew some of the details about the house and who it belonged to.
“We knew it had been built by Lethbridge, but he had never lived in it. We had the basic facts, but we didn’t know any of the details until a few years later.”
Moving the house to the still-undeveloped land proved to be a chore.
“I think it was on the road for over a week, maybe a week-and-a-half,” said Bill.
“Even though they took the roof off it was still too high to go under some of the rail bridges. It went slowly.”
The house sat parked for several weeks before the Saras’ contractors could put it together again.
“We have some fascinating pictures of the entire house on one truck coming down the road,” said Bill.
“The property we owned was absolutely undeveloped. There was no road in. There were a couple of dirt tracks where some four-wheel vehicles had been in and out. We started from scratch. So the photos of those whole house on one truck coming down what was barely a road was almost scary to watch.”
The Saras started off using the property agriculturally.
“We had a barn built and had 150 ewes at one point and were raising sheep,” said Bill. “It got to be a little too labour-intensive because I was still working full time in town and shearing sheep can take weeks and weeks to get them done.”
The couple shifted gears and went into the cattle business, enabling them to convert the barn into Bedside Manor Bed & Breakfast in 1986.
With the Crowsnest River serving as an international destination for fly fisherman, Bill and Sara had their clientele for the bed-and-breakfast.
“So we did that for many years using what was formerly the barn as a BnB.”
Ryan DeCillia, Realtor and associate broker for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said there has already been some interest in the land after less than a month.
“We haven’t had it listed for very long,” he said of the home listed for $3.5 million total. “We just put the sign out there last week. We’re getting some pretty good, serious inquiries about it, people wanting to see it. If anyone goes out there they just fall in love with the place, too. It’s pretty amazing property. We’ve talked to a lot of people who have seen the sign and been on the property and they think it’s pretty amazing. We’re already talking to a few people about maybe eventually purchasing it.”
The bed-and-breakfast and house is on 152.7 acres and sits along the river.
There is another 314 acres of agricultural land for sale as well, said DeCillia, adding the land is nature reserved.
“It’s called the Salts Program,” he said of the non-profit society with a focus on clean water, healthy natural habitats and viable rural communities and ranches. “You can only do one residence per quarter-section, a quarter-section being 160 acres. So they own almost three quarter-sections.”
After working in Blairmore for roughly 45 years doing general practice and anesthesia, Bill and Shirley moved to Shawnigan Lake, B.C., a few years ago.
But over 40 years in the in the Crowsnest Pass brings back a lot of memories.
“There are a mixture of feelings,” said Bill. “Shirley and I have been doing some walk-arounds the last couple of days and you can’t escape the nostalgia of it all.”
The property’s listing ID is A1020306 and can be found at sothebysrealty.ca.
Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter