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by Stephen Dafoe
Frank Sinatra’s 1953 song Young at Heart was a fitting theme song for Blue Meadow Homes developer Bob Chauvet’s most recent venture.
The Fable Gardens Ltd. project on 100 Street and 101 Avenue rose quickly and uniquely over many months causing residents and passersby to talk about its unusual design.
Looking like something out of a Tolkien novel or historical period movie, Chauvet is expecting some 90 happy children occupying the facility starting this month.
But that end of the project will be in other hands. The same people who run Our House Daycare will operate Fable Daycare. They are hoping to open next week.
As for Chauvet, he is pleased with the result.
“It’s quite an achievement,” Chauvet said of the 5,300 square foot facility that will serve as both daycare and well-landscaped tourist stop. “There has been so much input from so many different people, and so many contributions in ideas. The magic seems to have caught on through the workers, and everybody had their part in suggestions and ideas about what we could to do to make it more magical or more special or more childlike.”
Chauvet’s inspiration for the Morinville venture came from BC’s Fable Cottage, a development established in the 1950s as a family home. That building was moved by barge some 240 kilometres north to Denman Island after developer Wes Ritter bought it in 1993.
Indeed, the Morinville project is as magical as its inspiration.
From bringing the natural world indoors with murals of flora and fauna that include trees painted up the wall, their leaves spread across the ceilings – to specially designed wooden doors with custom hardware manufactured locally. Natural wood adds to the fabled lore of the facility.
Using a scale model, Chauvet and his team were able to get every odd angle and bend in the fairytale building right.
“We used it for the actual measurements for the roof,” he said.
Indeed, nothing speaks to the attention to detail Chauvet and company sought to achieve like the roof. The peaks and valleys were designed with flexible plywood, and it took the roofing crew seven months to complete the project. If one looks close, they can see the roofer’s handprints cut into the roofing shingles.
One of the workers on the project, Bryson Buzunis said the building was one of the most interesting projects of my career.
“Josh Prokopchuk and I were really tested with our knowledge, material capabilities and creative abilities,” Buzunis said. “Nice to see it in a finished state.”
Now completed, the more than 5,000 sf facility will be broken up into areas for infants, toddlers, preschool, after-school care, and administration, as well as a tourist component with a world-class landscaping plan of flowers and trees.
I’m very proud of the end product,” Chauvet said of his retirement project. “I think for a construction career, I think I chose the right project to end my career.”
“It has many challenges, a tremendous amount of attention to detail, and little things that make it special. But also, it’s the type of work that you can let your imagination go wild, and you can think of all the possibilities and all the different things.”
Chauvet said the project was fun, particularly the opportunity to work with so many creative people.
“It was fun to work with the dream and the concept to develop the fable of the Fable Daycare,” he said.
Morinville News will have another video and story on the operators of the new facility.