Skip to content

Tributes pour in for Forget's Happy Nun Cafe

Local and provincial people have fond memories of the business.
The Happy Nun Cafe in Forget burned down on Thursday night.

FORGET - The destruction of the Happy Nun Café in Forget due to a fire Thursday night has resulted in many tributes from the public. was the first to report on the fire Thursday night. Many people immediately commented on the story, saying how much they loved the restaurant, which was a noted tourist attraction and concert hall for the village of 55 people.

“Absolutely devastating news out of Forget,” SaskMusic said on its Facebook page.

SaskMusic said their hearts are with owners Gayla and Leon Gilbertson and the staff of The Happy Nun at the loss of this “wonderful” venue and restaurant. They noted it was a huge part of the Saskatchewan music community.   

The Happy Nun had won awards from SaskMusic and the Saskatchewan Country Music Association for being the top venue. It was a finalist for the SaskMusic Top Venue Award for this year’s awards, which were handed out Saturday.  

Mike Davis and Lindsay Arnold of the Saskatchewan folk duo Last Birds also reflected on the news. 

“We are devastated by this news,” they wrote. “The Happy Nun Café was the only venue in southeast Saskatchewan dedicated to live music. It is where we first performed as a duo.  

“This is a huge cultural loss for our area.”

The Tilted Kilts, another well-known Saskatchewan music group, said it was “absolutely devastating to report that the most beautiful jewel in our Prairie landscape suffered a tragic fire last night and is no more.”

To them, it was not just a restaurant, not just an award winning music venue, but an absolute icon of what love and determination can overcome. 

“Its local ownership, staff and sourced out foods was a source of pride, and among many of the multi-talented artists that graced their stage, The Tilted Kilts were one of them and our hearts are broken for everyone involved.

“Send as much love and support as you can: prayers, vibes, whatever you can for the owners, staff and community as a whole.

“Thank you Happy Nun ... for all you have given to us and those around you.

Brady Johnson of Estevan, who is one of the Southeast Explorers tourism ambassadors for Community Futures Sunrise, said her heart breaks for those with the Happy Nun.

She noted she had been there Saturday to capture footage of a recent event.

The Stoughton Meat Market offered a poignant tribute to the Gilbertsons and the restaurant. 

“Words cannot express our sorrow and sympathy to you and your family on your devastating loss of the Happy Nun,” stated a Facebook post. “We have had so many wonderful memories over the last 18 years attending events, going for meals, enjoying concerts and functions.”

On Sunday mornings, they would always get in new customers to come and buy their store-made bacon after people tried it at the nun. 

“Thank you for supporting us, thank you for being a sounding board for a fellow small business owner, thank you for everything you have done for our community and most of all: thank you for being you.

“You have done a wonderful job with the Nun, have put in countless hours and time with blood, sweat and tears. You have promoted music in Saskatchewan like no other and have made amazing, delicious food. 

“We love you guys.”

Nobody was injured in the fire.

This is the second time the restaurant and music venue has been faced with a tragedy. In 2017 owner Katie Vinge-Riddell died in a highway collision.