Exploring Ontario in the Winter - Bed and Breakfasting at Nicholyn Farms - A Wonderful Weekend Treat
By Susanne Pacher
Driving up to the Nicholyn Farms Bed and Breakfast you get welcomed by the hearty and healthy aroma of 2,200 organically raised pigs. This bed and breakfast was our destination for our quick winter getaway and as soon as we drove up the driveway we realized we had picked a great place.
Bed and breakfasts are one of my favourite ways of travelling since every B&B is unique and usually offers a very personal experience that includes a nice interaction with the B&B host and the other guests, much different from the rather anonymous character of the average motel or hotel chain. Wherever I travel, I find that every B&B owner has a unique story to tell, and Nicholyn Farms B&B was another example.
My husband and I must have travelled to more than 20 B&Bs over the last few years as a home base for an enjoyable weekend getaway. We have stayed in many family-run bed and breakfasts all throughout Ontario and almost always had a really positive experience.
Bed and breakfasting in Canada in somewhat different from the United States since Canadian B&Bs are usually smaller, have fewer guest rooms and there is more direct interaction with the owner/ host. Many Canadian bed and breakfasts have between one and three guest bedrooms with most of the owners living in the same house. As a result, bed and breakfasting in Canada is a more intimate experience, it is truly like staying in someone's house. The United States, on the other hand, features more "bed and breakfast inns", many of which are quite upscale and located in renovated mansions with a much larger number of guest rooms, almost along the lines of country boutique hotels.
There are a couple of really helpful websites out there for bed and breakfast travel in Ontario and Canada:
- www.bbcanada.com, which provides bed and breakfast listings throughout all of Canada, and
- the Ontario Farm and Country Accommodations Association which lists active farm operations that provide accommodation to travellers.
After I had completed my research on these websites and contacted a number of B&B hosts about availability, we selected the Nicholyn Farms Bed and Breakfast, just about an hour and a bit north of Toronto, for our late January getaway.
We checked in at the Nicholyn Farms Country Market, where Nicholyn Farms sells products made from their own pigs which are raised organically in a bio-secure environment, without growth hormones or antibiotics. At this market, they also sell produce and meat products from other local farmers north of Toronto.
Lynda, the owner, explained that their country market sells a whole range of locally grown meats, such as pork, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, rabbit, goat, cornish hens and even more exotic locally produced varieties such as elk, emu and buffalo. During the growing season they feature fresh certified organic produce from local vegetable and fruit growers, and their popular organic pork products are shipped to people as far away as Ottawa.
At just an hour's drive from Toronto, Nicholyn Farms was the perfect getaway for us. It is located in a beautifully restored farmhouse whose original portion dates back to 1872. The Van Casteren family completely renovated the farmstead in 1996 and won the top prize for "Most Improved Farmstead in Simcoe County".
Lynda mentioned that her B&B has hosted guests from all over the world from as far away as the Netherlands, England, the United States, Japan, Australia, Chile and Peru. Many of their European guests stay for 5 days or more since their location is halfway between two major Ontario attractions: Algonquin Park and Niagara Falls, with Toronto easily accessible for day trips.
Our room was the cozy "Forest Room" which was located on the second storey and featured 4 beds, perfect for us 3 overnight vacationers. The space under the roof overlooking the farmland was such a welcome quiet sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Nicholyn Farms features two other guest bedrooms and all the bedrooms have their own private bathrooms.
This morning we sat down to a wonderful homemade breakfast, that started off with a beautiful assortment of fresh fruit, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, green and blue grapes, pineapple, and melons. The Van Casteren's buy their fruit at a special fruit market and the flavour of the fruit is indeed much stronger and sweeter than the fruit found commonly in supermarkets. Lynda and her trusted assistant Joyce called all of us guests to come out and have a look at a flock of about 20 wild turkeys that were pecking away on the field behind the bed and breakfast.
After our wildlife encounter, we continued with a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs, organic pork sausages, toast, homemade pancakes, country preserves and muffins. Portions are not measured and as a result we had several helpings of each dish. We had a nice relaxing and very filling breakfast before we set off on our next adventure for today: snowtubing at Horseshoe Valley.
Staying at a bed and breakfast usually makes for a beautiful getaway since you get to relax in the tranquility of a country home and most B&Bs offer a delicous, filling home-cooked meal that will keep you nourished for many hours, allowing you to take full advantage of the activities for the day. It's a fabulous way to travel.
About The Author
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions (http://www.travelandtransitions.com). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.
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