For years, Shean and Trie Donovan led a life with jobs that took them away from home for days and weeks at a time. Shean is a former professional hockey player who retired from the Ottawa Senators in 2010, and Trie is a professional model and actress, turned entrepreneur. Trie says, “We lived in 16 homes, nine of which we owned, but we always dreamed of finding a space where we could be surrounded by friends, family, and the land.”
The Donovans met while attending Canterbury High School. Trie grew up on a dairy farm and represented Ottawa in the 1992 Miss Canada pageant. She then went on to guest-star in TV shows, such as Judging Amy, Veronica’s Closet, Suddenly Susan, and Two of a Kind. Shean is originally from Timmins, ON, and played junior hockey for the Ottawa 67s.
“In addition to his dreams to play in the NHL, Shean always told me he wanted to be a farmer,” Trie explains. “When we were dating, he used to love to visit with my family on the farm and help with hay in the summer. Ironically, I grappled with severe allergies on the farm and never imagined I would put roots down in the country again — I guess time changes many things.”
After Shean retired from hockey, the Donovans and their three children, Jorian (18), Rylan (17), and Trinity (12), began to think more about their lifestyle choices and the changes they wanted to make as a family. While both their sons have always been passionate about hockey — their eldest was recently drafted by the Ottawa Senators as the 136th overall 2022 draft pick — their daughter is a passionate equestrian, having grown up riding horses on her grandparent’s farm.Together, they decided to make the change to rural life.
While the family looked for acreage closer to the city and their children’s schools, it didn't prove easy to find exactly what they wanted. However, in the spring of 2021, they fell for a home only 15 minutes from where Trie grew up. “It had the acreage we had been looking for,” Trie says, “plus, there were so many other things we loved about it instantly: sugar bushes, fields for animals, century-old barns, lots of space inside and out for our kids, close proximity to my parents, and a newly built 3000-square foot home.”
The property is a custom four-bedroom home by Lockwood Brothers Construction on 92 acres that backs onto the South Nation River in Prescott, ON. The home was built in 2016, replacing the original dilapidated farmhouse, however, the farmland and outbuildings date back more than a century.
Inside the home, the family spends quality time with friends in the great room with its laid-back style and soaring 15-foot elevated ceiling adorned with barn beams from the original house. “It’s heavenly,” Trie says; “just the space, the light from the windows, the quiet and the country air is a change from the fast pace of the city.”
The Donovans have always been a family to embrace a more relaxed look in their homes, and the Prescott house is no exception. Taking cues from the colour of the salvaged beams, the interior colour palette is infused with greys, whites, and creams to create a fresh, yet cozy, feel. Artwork by Trie’s mother, Pam Sherrer, is on display throughout the home, along with family photos and cherished treasures of hockey past, including a signed jersey from The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky.
The move has meant not only a change of house for the Donovans but also a whole new way of life. When they arrived on the property, they had very little in terms of functional farm equipment and livestock. Trie explains that her father, Ron Sherrer, has been there step-by-step with them, helping to guide the family through their first year on the farm. “We came to a bare farm and had to buy all the animals and machinery. We’ve had setbacks already; we lost a barn in a tornado, and a few animals, too. This is work for us in every sense, and we are learning every day.”
For Trie, the move to the farm has been more than a labour of love, it’s also been a metaphor for how she defines family. “Building strong foundations is integral to who we are. I grew up in a family of seven kids and establishing a place where our children and their friends actually want to be is really important to us.”
Follow along with their adventures through Donovan Acres on Facebook.