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Family Travel Ink
Parent Getaways: Great Bed and Breakfasts across Canada
Canadian winter is sometimes too much of a good thing. Too much snow, too much wind, too much time spent taking coats on and off and too many boots dripping over heaters. By March, it’s time for a break—to cosy up somewhere, to clear the head and revitalise the senses. What better way to clean away the winter cobwebs than a few days in a country inn or a bed and breakfast? We’ve discovered a sampling of places across Canada where we can hole up with a good book or set out across a beach or nature trail to do some birdwatching, horsebackriding or hiking. Some are unique because of history, setting or architecture. But all are alike in that the warmth of the environment and the welcome of the hosts remind us that spring and warmer weather are just around the bend.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: World Famous Olde England Inn
If Victoria is a little piece of Britain in Canada, then the Olde England Inn is a fitting ambassador. Today, built on a bluff and framed by fir trees, the world-famous Old England Inn serves as the centrepiece of a real English Elizabethan village. There’s a faithful replica of an Elizabethan street, Shakespeare’s home and his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage (complete with a thatched roof) and a tuck shop selling, what else, humbugs. Staying at the inn is almost like sleeping in a museum. Enter through the Baronial hall with its suits of armor, swords and huge fireplace to the guest rooms furnished with canopy beds. If you want to sleep in the bed used by Edward V11 in Warwick Castle, ask for the King Edward the Seventh room on the second floor. Until the end of March, rooms are $75; after April 1, from $94. For a romantic bed and breakfast package including a bottle of chilled champagne, couples pay $175—chivalry and candlelight no extra charge. Open year round.
World Famous Olde England Inn, Tel. (250) 388-4353, Fax (250) 382-8311
ALBERTA: The Homeplace Ranch
You know as soon as you step inside the door of the Homeplace Ranch, about 25 miles southwest from Calgary, that you have come home. The family albums are out on the coffee table, a cat lies purring in the rocking chair and the dining room is already set for dinner. It’s the kind of place where kids can help themselves to milk and chocolate chip cookies, as many as they like, and where horses and ranch dogs come freely for a nuzzle when you step out onto the lawns. Cowboy Mac Makenny and his wife operate the working ranch and make sure that every guest from seven up gets a good horse to look after. The sprawling ranch is an original Alberta homestead. Highlights include the home cooking but it’s the scenery that you remember as you nudge your mount up to a golden crest of a hill and look out onto the foothills of the Rockies. Four bedrooms and a family suite decorated country-style offer repose until the wake-up bell rings and it’s time for flapjacks, sausages, bacon and hot chocolate. Open Easter until Thanksgiving. Overnights are $ for adults, $ for kids under.
The Homeplace Ranch, Priddis, Alberta
(403) 931-3245, fax (403) 931-3245
SASKATCHEWAN: The Fieldstone Inn, Regina, Saskatchewan
It’s true that Carrie and Kelly Brennan have welcomed guests “from all walks of life” to their bed and breakfast in the Qu’Appelle Valley just 25 minutes north of Regina. This year alone, the innkeepers have hosted recording industry executives on retreat, a Hollywood crew filming a murder mystery around their property and Japanese tourists hoping to capture the true Canadian experience under Saskatchewan’s big skies. Not only do guests enjoy the friendly atmosphere, homey touches such as Saskatoon berry jams and the historical details of the 1903 restored home (the house was originally built by a Scottish black sheep of the family), but visitors also delight in the setting. Surrounded by 120 acres of trees, the property is adjacent to the Hidden Valley Nature Refuge; hiking, mountain biking, llama trekking, horseback riding and other outdoor activities are encouraged. The hosts call their place a country vacation guest ranch bed and breakfast but guests write back that it was a “little piece of paradise.” Indeed, one Toronto couple travelled to their big wide verandah to tie the knot. Rooms start at $75 per couple including breakfast; a Romantic Refuge includes Belgian chocolates and wine, $97. Doggie in residence. Open year round.
Fieldstone Inn Country Vacation Guest Ranch Bed and Breakfast
Tel (306) 731-2377, Fax (306) 731-2369 or e-mail email@example.com
MANITOBA: Falcon Trails Resort
“We have people who disappear into the cabins on Friday and re-emerge on Sunday,” jokes host Mike Vlasman, partner in the Falcon Trails Resort about an hour and a half’s drive east of Winnipeg. Only he’s not joking. The eight chalet-style post and beam cabins have been described as “rustic-luxury.” Pine floors, open ceilings, large windows opening onto the lake remind you that you are in a forest. The fireplaces, full kitchens and loft bedrooms are the luxury part; some even come with their own screened outdoor hot tub. For those who want to explore the terrain of the surrounding Whiteshell Provincial Park, there’s mountain biking, canoeing, hiking the “Top of the World” trail, kayaking and swimming from a sandy beach. Kids love all the activity and don’t even miss the TV! Good footwear is recommended as the cabins are a short hike from the parking lot. Hot tub cabins that sleep five rent for $129 a night; a bed and breakfast package in the Welcome Centre is $35 per night for two. In summer, cabins rent by the week, $885. No pets. Open year round.
Tel (204) 349-8273, fax (204) 349-8137 or www.falcontrails.mb.ca
ONTARIO: Little Inn of Bayfield
Driving into Bayfield on the Lake Huron shore, a two and a half hour drive west from Toronto, you’ll find a bustling little town that reminds you of Niagara-on-the-Lake before the tour buses. There, on the principal corner of Main St. is the Little Inn of Bayfield, its two-storey gingerbread embellished porch beckoning like a flag waver at a parade. Current owners Gayle and Patrick Waters added the verandah in 1981, their first step to restoring the graceful old coach stop inn to its former glory. Today, after joining a separate carriage house and renovating a cottage-like building across the street, they have 30 rooms to rent, many of them outfitted with whirlpools and fireplaces. Walking into the comfortable lobby, however, what first greets visitors are the aromas of good cooking; the menu features local produce and wines distinguished by the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Afterward, you can lose the calories with a swim in the invigorating waters of Lake Huron. Rooms start at $115, bed and breakfast packages $131. Open year round.
Tel. (519) 565-2611 or 1-800-565-1832, Fax (519) 565-5474 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUEBEC: A Lighthouse Retreat on the St. Lawrence
You might say that this restored 1861 lighthouse on a rocky island coast in the St. Lawrence River has gone to the birds.The skies around the Iles du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie (Brandy Pot Islands) are teeming with life. From the three double bedrooms, you can see razor-billed auks, great blue herons, kittiwakes as well as great beluga whales swimming past the shore. Société Duvetnor, the non-profit group that bought the island and opened the lighthouse inn, transports guests in a 20-passenger boat from Rivière-du-Loup on the south shore, a 15-minute journey. Once on the island, couples are free to roam, although during the June-July nesting season, it’s advisable to stick closer to quarters. Do bring your binoculars but don’t worry about sustenance. The $170 per person price includes gourmet meals delivered to the lighthouse door as well as a one-hour cruise and a three-hour guided tour with a naturalist. The same sea view can be enjoyed from campsites on nearby L’île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), $15 per person; chalets rent for $120 per night and sleep four. Open June to September. Reservations a must.
Tel. (418) 867-1660, Fax
NEW BRUNSWICK: Past Century Splendour
Feast by candlelight in an 1860 dining room or relax in a whirlpool tub for two. Awaken to the smells of home baking or take a picnic to the nearby Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world. The Florentine Manor, 45 minutes from the Moncton airport, serves as a base for miles of beaches, lighthouses, covered bridges and hiking trails. Touring nearby Fundy National Park and the Hopewell Rock Provincial Park, site of the famous flowerpot rocksm should whet the appetites for fresh seafood, served in the Victorian dining room. The home was built by land baron and ship builder Gideon Vernon. Today, landlubbers and lobster lovers are content to have hostess Mary Tingley serve the sea’s bounty with nary a swell of the sea. No smoking and no pets. Spring rates start at $65 per couple including a full breakfast; summer pushes them to $99.
Tel 1-800-665-2271, Fax (506) 882-2271.
NOVA SCOTIA: A Restored Rail Car
If you’ve got a train buff in your family, then puff on over to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia to the Train Station Inn. Owners Shelley and James LeFresne bought the century-old building, one of Canada’s oldest standing stations, turned it into a museum of railway artifacts, china and photographs and have been welcoming visitors ever since. Today, you can sleep in a station room or bed down in a private railway car or caboose; some have been transformed into mini-suites and outfitted with fireplaces for optimum romance on the rails. Bicycles are available so that after continental breakfast, you can cycle along the old rail bed beside the river. Further along the shore is Antigonish, with its summer theatre festival, or Pugwash where the Clans gather every July to honor the town’s Scottish heritage. A caboose room costs $xx per couple including breakfast. Open year round.
Tel. 1-888-RAILBED or in B.C. (902) 657-3222, fax 657-9091, or visit www.trainstation.ns.ca
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: Island Hospitality
Tom Rath, owner of Lady Catherine’s Bed and Breakfast on an eastern shore of P.E.I., should write his own cookbook. His “skip-lunch breakfast” of muffins, fruit, cheese and raisin breads and island preserves would be the natural opener for his “bilingual toast”— French toast made with English muffins. Or his bakin’ bacon, cooked on a rack in the oven. Guests do more than enjoy Rath’s creations, however. Because the comfortable farmhouse is positioned in a peaceful and scenic setting between rural country roads and the ocean, visitors have a choice of activities from shopping for handicrafts to bird or seal watching or even playing golf at the nearby 18-hole course. Rath considers the place that he and Colleen Dempsey run to be a romantic and peaceful getaway where you can snuggle down under handmade quilts, watch the sunset from the verandah or try to emulate some of the eclectic art on the walls. But then, it’s evening and time for Rath’s seafood linguine with local shrimp, scallops and mussels. The $80 rate per couple includes a welcome cocktail, breakfast and tea with cakes or lemonade with cashews in the afternoon. Open year round.
Tel. 1-800-661-3426 or e-mail email@example.com
SASK: Also recommended for couples or families: the Moose Jaw Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Hotel and Resort (306- ) and Saskatchewan Country Vacations farms; recommended properties display a Black Rooster logo. Call Tourism Saskatchewan 1-800-667-7191.
ONT: Also recommended is Patterson House in Ottawa, a non-smoking, non-drinking mansion, considered to be one of the “best places to kiss” in North America by a television show, and Ste. Anne’s spa in Grafton, Ontario.
N.S.: Also recommended: the Blomidon Inn, a beautifully restored 1882 sea captain’s mansion in Wolfville, N.S. (doubles from $, 1-800-565-2291), or Murray Manor in Yarmouth, a Heritage Gothic property with gardens and a greenhouse (doubles from $xx, 902-742-9625).
N.B.: Also recommended: Inn on the Cove in Saint John with its panoramic sea vistas and beach (doubles from $ 506-672-7799) or Shorecrest Lodge on Grand Manan Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Saint John. This old-fashioned country inn is run by two naturalists, who can help you explore wildlife around the island. (doubles from $ (506-662-3216).
PEI: Also recommended: MacLeod’s Farm Home and Cottages, a 100-acre working farm that rents cottages ($doubles from 1-800-661-2303) and the Doctor’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, a relaxing village home in Tyne Valley, where guests get to tour and taste the garden (
Comp Copy and Checking:
Carol Bokrossy, (marketing)
Sam and Rosina Lane, (owners)
World Famous Olde England Inn,
429 Lampson St.,
The Homeplace Ranch,
Site 2, Box 6, R.R.1,
Carrie and Kelly Brennan,
Innkeepers, The Fieldstone Inn,
P.O. Box 26038 Regina,
Saskatchewan, S4R 8R7
Falcon Trails Resort,
204-349-8273 (office) or 204-349-8137 (home),
Patrick and Gayle Waters,
The Little Inn at Bayfield,
200 rue Hayward, C.P. 305,
R.R. #2, Albert,
Shelly and James LeFresne,
21 Station Rd., Box 67,
Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia,
Lady Catherine’s B & B,
RR4, Montague, PE,
Canada COA 1RO
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