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14 - PRAIRIE POST - Friday, September 9, 2011


Southwest Saskatchewan


Carolynn’s country tea house near Lake Diefenbaker: a dream come true for owners


BY NATHAN OLSON — ppost@prairiepost.com


Hopes, dreams, aspirations ...


everybody has them, but not everyone lives to see their dreams become a reality. Carolynn and Gene Mau started thinking about building a tea house in rural southwest Saskatchewan more than 30 years ago. Yes, 30 years. This is their story. Drinking tea will only be a small part


of what takes place at Rabbit Hill Tea House, just a few miles south of Lake Diefenbaker. This story is about one Saskatchewan couple with a vision to offer who they are and what they have to the community. If the Trans-Canada highway passed through central or northern Saskatchewan, people travelling from Toronto would likely equate Saskatchewan with an abundance of lakes and trees. As it is, farm land and wide open space is usually what comes to mind. This suits Carolynn just fine. When she returned to her home province in 1979, after living in Pakistan for almost two years, she turned to her husband and said: ‘As far as I am concerned, this is the most beautiful place in the world.’ Do the math, and you may notice this


was right about the time when the tea house idea began to take shape. They got the windows from the old Elmwood School in Swift Current way back then; big, tall, steel, palladian windows that just seem to cry out for a tea house to be built around them, and then carefully placed in a lovely flower garden. The building would not begin on their acreage, seven miles east of Stewart Valley, until the spring of 2008. A lot of other things would need to take place before then. A Long Way from Home Carolynn Olson would have to leave her large family and close-knit farming community, 30 miles north of Swift Current, and travel all the way to Los Angeles, California. She would take with her the warm memories of riding horses with her father, memories of adventures in the coulees as a child, her rabbit collection (live rabbits that is and 54 of them at that), and the neighbour’s horse, Amigo. “Amigo had this annoying habit of going into the middle of a slough and laying down with you on it,” she says. She would also take a strong work


ethic, an emphasis on community, intellectual curiosity, and Christianity as her “most valuable legacy.” “We were happy,” she says, looking


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Photo by Tyler Olson


Gene Mau and his wife Carolynn are enjoying operating a tea house in rural southwest Saskatchewan.


back on her formative years. “In a lot of ways,we were happy.” Eugene Mau would need to leave his


family and farming community near Donnelly, Minnesota, and do the same. War was raging in Vietnam at the time, and pulling out of the engineering program at a local university meant he might be drafted. California Lutheran Bible School,


where Carolynn and Gene met, was not a magnet for draft dodgers back in the 1960s. Gene was fortunate, and the call to join the war effort never came. Married in 1969, this young couple


Country residential lots available 1 milelots available 1 mile South of Swift Current


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For more information call


would then make their way to the University of Minnesota. Over the years, they would also study


at the University of Oregon, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Lutheran Brethren Bible Institute in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. When all was said and done,


Carolynn had enough academic hardware to make a good living as a public school teacher and principal, while Gene was ordained as a Lutheran pastor and trained as a professional counselor.


Continued on Page 15


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