Colin and Barbara McNiven

Colin, Barbara and Rena McNiven wander out their front door on a balmy winter day. Just a short walk away, their horses wait to say hello. It’s the lifestyle Barbara says she and her husband envisioned when they planned their future together.

“Go check the cows whenever we want, go for a drive, there’s no traffic, its quiet, its an easy place for Rena to play and walk around.”

The McNivens live along the scenic Berry Creek near Cessford in Alberta’s Special Area. It’s a very remote rural location…but Colin says that’s part of its’ appeal. “No one bothers us, we do what we want when we want, we’re our own boss.” There is seclusion for those who choose it, but isolation isn’t an issue. The nearest grocery store may be a long way off, but this is an area where you can still show up on your neighbour’s doorstep to ask for a cup of sugar. Barbara says it’s a tight-knit community of people many whom have returned to rural.“A lot of young people live here in Cessford; lots of people that my husband went to school with have come back to raise their family.”

Colin says it’s the people that help make it such a great place to live.“There’s great people, its a great lifestyle, there’s nowhere else like it in the world.”

The McNivens love living in Special Areas and you can too. Find out more about living your dream life in a rural location at