[Please note that this is a historic article from 2008. Landfall Farm B&B is no longer in business. Please do not call the Heintzmann family to look for bed and breakfast accommodation.]
After being stuck in the city for what seemed like an eternity I was itching to get out into the countryside. So I decided to embark on a little getaway within an hour’s drive of Toronto. Given the recent sharp rise in gas prices I was determined to find interesting travel opportunities just a short distance away from the big city.
I set off eastwards to explore Ontario’s Waterfront Trail. I stopped at the Rotary Park in Ajax to do some inline-skating. This recreational trail stretches all the way from Niagara Falls in the southwest to Brockville in the east and spans about 780 kilometres of designated pathways. The Ajax section stretches from Duffin’s Creek in the west to the Whitby townline in the east and encompasses a series of parks. Well-kept parklands made this a very pleasant experience, but fog, a leftover from last night’s thunderstorm, kept hanging over Lake Ontario. As I rolled along the waterfront I was thinking that the only thing missing were a few waterfront cafes to relax and enjoy the views over the lake.
Along the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail
Finally it was time to head north and I took Highway 12 into the rolling countryside. Farmland was interspersed with forested areas. As in many other areas surrounding Toronto, various real estate developments are encroaching on this bucolic country environment.
Turning east on Highway 7A I made my way through Port Perry, a very cute waterfront town that I was planning to explore in further detail. Just 10 minutes east I had arrived at my destination: Landfall Farm B&B, a 20 acre property adjacent to the highway. A long, wooded driveway took me to the 1868 fieldstone farmhouse that was converted into a bed and breakfast almost 30 years ago.
The historic 1868 fieldstone house at Landfall Farm B&B
Sam, a friendly black lab, came to greet me and as I went inside she barked to announce to her owner that a visitor had just arrived. Merle Heintzman arrived to say hello and made me feel welcome in her house, encouraging me to settle in and get comfortable. At 88 years of age, Merle is still a consummate entrepreneur, and her bed and breakfast as well as the expansive property surrounding it are in perfect condition.
Merle Heintzman with her dog Sam
Merle took me upstairs to show me my room for the night: a spacious queen size bedroom with an adjoining dressing room, equipped with a sitting area and a desk. I particularly liked the cushioned window seats which provided a great view of the garden. Since the other guests had not arrived yet, she showed me the two other bedrooms. One offered two twin beds and shared a bathroom with my bedroom. Connected through two wooden doors was the master bedroom which had its own ensuite bathroom.
One of the two beautiful Gothic-style windows
The key feature of this room is a stunning Gothic window that provides a view to the eastern side of the house. The upstairs hallway also features a pointed-arch window. Merle gave me free reign to take photos and videos of the entire house, so I started documenting. As I came downstairs I went past the dining room into the other north-facing room and realized it was an antique store. I now remembered that Merle runs an antique shop, aptly called “The Front Room”, from her property.
The “Front Room” houses all sorts of interesting antiques
An enclosed porch with an attractive sitting area took me outside to the huge garden. Merle has planted several meticulously kept flowerbeds. The western side of the property is highlighted by a free-form pool that is surrounded by deckchairs and a cabana that features a fridge, two change rooms and a washroom. This is definitely a great place for a weekend getaway.
View of the pool area with the cabana
Always curious I then followed the long driveway past the main farm house to the two old barns that have been located on this property since the 1840s. Past another large meadow I walked through a wooded area to arrive at a private pond that is also part of Merle’s property. Lawn chairs were set up there as well to provide for a leisurely lounge experience by the water, but the pesky deer flies would have none of it. These animals kept buzzing around my head until I decided to venture back into the house.
Serenity by the pond
As I came in Merle sat down with me on the enclosed porch that allowed us to enjoy the late afternoon sun. I was curious to find out more about the life story of this almost 90-year old dynamo who has been running her hospitality business since 1979. She offered me a drink and we settled in for a nice long chat.
My cozy bedroom