Not every small town has a river! The village's northern border is the Embarras River, a waterway that "has from the beginning been prominent in the history" of the village, according to the 1987 sesquicentennial book A Chronicle of the Years 1837-1987. There's all that history--of difficulties crossing the river in the early days; of bridges built and rebuilt; of floods that continue to this day, cutting off access to the north as the lowland turns into a lake rushing water. But the book's narrative goes on to say (p. 113):
"One would not like to give the impression that the river is always a raging torrent. "In the good old summertime, when flowers are abloom, trees and shrubbery green and shady and the water at a proper state of depth and temperature, the Embarras is a beautiful stream and one that those who have the desire and leisure for fishing, wading, bathing and boating will find it ready to meet every reasonable demand made upon it." Thus wrote a true admirer. In the winter, which were always colder "back then", the river would freeze over to a depth that was safe to skate on from Ste. Marie all the way to Newton."
Today, the river still attracts many visitors, including those who ride "four-wheelers" down its shallow channel when the water is low during summer droughts. People still fish at the "Leven Foot". And some just like to sit under the trees on the river bank and admire the beauty of a quiet spot in this fast charging world!
THE BOUNTY BOX AT THE POST OFFICE
During the spring, summer and early fall, there is a "bounty box" (just an ordinary, easily-replaceable cardboard box!) that sits outside the Sainte Marie post office. People who have an over-abundance of garden items (tomatoes, cucumbers, bulbs, plants, etc.) drop them off at the box for others to pick up. Now that is truly "sharing the wealth' with your neighbors! Former Ste. Marie residents know that the best time to come back to Ste. Marie is during July and August when the tomatoes are plentiful. They all agree--there's no better tasting tomatoes in the whole world!!! And thanks to the Bounty box, they are there for all of us to share.
Every morning and evening you will see people out walking. They don't just stroll, either. They are serious walkers who really "step it up"--good exercise, you know! Since traffic on the back streets is so infrequent, they walk down the center of the roads, often in small groups--somehow managing to chat while keeping up the pace.
Sainte Marie residents have always been proud of their gardens. On occasion, the Sainte Marie Community Club hosts a Garden Walk where certain gardens are featured.
A VILLAGE OF TREES
Many different trees grow in Sainte Marie. Some of the older specimens, especially old oaks, tower over the buildings. This area had virgin timber when first settled in 1837, and the founders were quick to build a saw mill and market the good timber they found in the area. Sainte Marie still has a sawmill. Trees still line the river and wetlands along smaller waterways. People continue to plant and care for the trees, although utility lines often prohibit the huge old trees that once lined the village's streets. Paul Mullinax has worked for years to replace dead and diseased trees. Many of the trees in the Sainte Marie Park are there because Paul and his late wife Rosemary planted, watered and cared for them.
SAINTE MARIE FOUNDATION