One of Bayfield’s signature properties is the Little Inn, a historic inn that was built in the 1850s, although an earlier stagecoach stop had existed in the same location since the early 1830s. On October 9, 2011, I had a chance to meet innkeeper Darren Erb who took me on a tour of this historic property. For more than a decade, the inn has been awarded the CAA Four Diamond rating, and it is also a founding member of Ontario’s Finest Inns and Spas.
We started our tour with the picturesque back garden that is open to overnight guests and day visitors, saw the elegant parlours and sitting rooms on the main floor, the dining facilities with their two large and sun-filled rooms and several comfortable guest rooms in the main inn. Then we walked across the street to check out the Guest Cottage which features a large common room with two pianos and 10 luxury suites with private verandas. Because of its facilities and private setting, the Guest Cottage is very popular with large groups and wedding parties.
With our tour complete, I’d have a chance to get to know Little Inn even better, since I had a dinner scheduled here that would allow me to sample the locally flavoured cuisine of Executive Chef Joseph Petrinac in the next couple of days
Since we still had a bit more time before checking in at our B&B on October 11, 2011, we decided to discover the surrounding area of Bayfield and drove to the village of Clinton through rolling farmlands.
Just a few minutes outside of Clinton we made a stop at the Hullett Marsh, a provincial wildlife area extending over 2200 hectares along the Maitland River that is home to a wide range of waterfowl, beavers, muskrats minks and deer.
In the evening we checked into our abode for the next few days: Clair on the Square. Clair Soper, our gregarious bed and breakfast hostess, welcomed us warmly and showed us into our cozy room under the slanted roofs of the second floor. The three rooms in her 1860s farmhouse are nicely decorated, each equipped with a private bathroom. Behind the house is an impressive garden with a large deck. Clair allowed us to store our bicycles in her garage before we headed off for our evening explorations in Bayfield.
Shortly before 6:30 we made it back to Pioneer Park, the best spot in Bayfield for watching the famous Lake Huron sunsets. Numerous people had already gathered – couples, groups of friends, families and photographers, who all wanted to partake of the famously beautiful sundowns that can be viewed from this elevated park. We weren’t disappointed and enjoyed 30 minutes of a gorgeous sunset until the sun slipped below the horizon, leaving only a tiny sliver of orange and red on the purplish horizon.
Our evening program was dinner at the Albion Hotel, which has been welcoming guests for more than 140 years and in addition to its four quaint guestrooms, it also features an English-style pub and a dining room. A special menu was on offer for Thanksgiving, but we opted for the regular menu and sampled a tasty butternut squash soup, calamari, New Zealand spring lamb and breaded perch with mashed potatoes, turnips and green beans with freshly caught fish from Lake Huron.
Then we headed home to our B&B to rest up in the quiet country for a full day of sports activities tomorrow.
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