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The Happy Nun Café in Forget takes Venue of the Year at the SCMA Awards

Popular restaurant once again recognized for its ability to host a great concert.
Happy Nun

FORGET - For the third year in a row, the Happy Nun Café in Forget received the Venue of the Year Award at the Sask. Country Music Association (SCMA) Awards.

To say they were happy would be an understatement, as Gayla Gilbertson was ecstatic.

The 33rd annual ceremony was held April 23. Once again it was a virtual ceremony, but it is hoped to be a live event for 2023.

Gayla Gilbertson and her husband Leon purchased the Happy Nun Café four years ago. Although Gilbertson is the main operator for the establishment, Leon helps bartend on weekends and takes care of the sound system.

Leon grew up in Forget and the couple now resides in his childhood home. Their first date was at the Nun, and Gilbertson worked at the Nun part time, so when they were approached to purchase it, they felt it was meant for them.

Gilbertson is quite community oriented and is involved in many social events, including being a volunteer at the Stoughton Tecumseh Respond Centre.

Believing in supporting local, much of the Nun’s food is purchased from local farmers. Wild boar comes from Chris Cheater’s farm and the lamb from Tammy King. Both are local farmers. Gilbertson is very proud to support local and does her utmost to do so, with as much as possible. If it can’t be done locally, they do their best to purchase Canadian made products.

The café is a licensed establishment, so they purchase locally made liquors and beer as well. Over the Hills, which is located by Lumsden, supplies the wines. Rebellion Brewing in Regina supplies their beer. They offer a few brand names as well, but once again believe in Saskatchewan made.

“All items are made from scratch,” said Gilbertson. With their small kitchen they can pump out a lot of food, but since they do a great deal of catering, they can’t have always the restaurant open. Many Saturdays they will be closed in June and July due to catering commitments.

Local artists are another promotion they do. Entertainers such as Teagen Littlechief and Tenille Arts have graced the stage at the Happy Nun, with the sounds of their beautiful music.

Gilbertson said, “it hasn’t been easy.” When they took over, oil prices were dropping fast, then the pandemic hit for two years. These challenges started right after they purchased the business. The past winter was brutal and with it carrying on into April has caused cancellations at the café. It is their hope that spring will soon make its appearance.

May offers a full calendar of events. Starting with May 7, it is open mic with Jacquie Walbaum running the show. This show is open to all ages, with participants as young as six years up to the age of 70. So, if you sing or have a comedy act, this would be the place to be. This is a fun night for all. Mother’s Day is the following day.

May 14, starting at 8 p.m., it’s a cabaret in support of Jonathan Lake, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Lake is unable to work and has a young family. Gilbertson felt it was important to support this family. The Lake family are longtime residents of the area.

The cabaret will offer music by Back 40 Drifters. A midnight luncheon will also be provided, with $5 drinks throughout the night. A silent auction is another event to take place that night with the band donating a guitar for this auction. A $20 cover charge will be in place for the evening.

May 21, comedian Big Daddy Taz from Winnipeg will keep the crowd laughing. This is his first appearance at the café. Taz is also an advocate for mental health. This event includes a four-course meal.

The Happy Nun is a unique place. The items inside have a story and history to go along with it. An old counter from the former Donvil’s General Store in Forget now serves as a bar. A tin on the wall behind the bar came from Augey’s Machine Shop, also from Forget.

Original mailboxes from Forget adorn the venue too. The back stairs and hall have wainscoting from the convent’s classrooms. Hank Nikel, a previous owner’s father, built all the bookshelves and refurbished the floor.

Once a granary, and then changed to a parish hall, and then converted to the town hall. The Happy Nun Café has its place in the town of Forget.