Landfall Farm B&B in Port Perry
[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.]
Merle Heintzman grew up in Ohio and studied nursing after high school. Shortly after graduating she joined the US Army Airforce, as it was called during World War II, and became an army flight nurse. Having joined the service in 1943, she was stationed in England for nearly two years, where her job was to fly with supply planes into emergency landing strips just behind the ever moving combat lines, pick up the wounded and fly with them back to England. After VE Day (Victory in Europe) she also spent time in Naples and accompanied the wounded to Casablanca from where they were airlifted back home to the US.
The main bedroom also features a Gothic window
Flying had become one of Merle’s passions, so after the war she left nursing and worked for eight years in the airline industry in New York City, doing statistical work for TWA and Alitalia. There she met her husband and moved to Ontario with him. She says living in Southern Ontario was not a big adjustment from growing up in Ohio. The people and the topography were indeed very similar.
Slate floors and countertops in the master bath
In 1968 the couple purchased the farm, and after her separation Merle opened the antique store in 1974. Five years later her bed and breakfast followed. Initially, she provided farm vacations that were promoted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. As part of this program, guests were staying for an entire week, and Merle had to supply three meals a day. This was a very onerous way of doing business.
Sitting area on the west side of the house
A prominent bed and breakfast writer came and stayed at her property and gave her a very good write-up. Together with publicity in various regional papers this allowed Merle to significantly expand her clientele and switch from the farm vacation concept to a true bed and breakfast. Merle preferred shorter-term guests that would require breakfast service only, and her transition to the new format was successful.
Today, the main bed and breakfast travel season is from May to October with the months of June to August being the busiest. Merle has adjusted to the times and has had a website for numerous years now and advertises on popular bed and breakfast portals. Her step-son gave her a computer about 5 years ago, so at age 83 Merle started to learn the intricacies of using the Internet. Today about 50% of her guests come from her Internet marketing efforts while the rest are repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Landfall Farm B&B – a designated historic property
Recently Merle went over her guest books from the early 1980s and realized that even at that time she had guests from all over the world. Today her bed and breakfast is well-visited by travelers from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and other parts of the world. On average her guests stay two nights, usually on weekends. Many come for special events such as weddings, anniversary celebrations and local festivals. Port Perry hosts a lot of popular annual events such as the “Dog Days in Port Perry” as well as various events for theatre lovers, cloggers and Scottish highlanders. In addition, the town attracts busloads of shoppers from the city on day trips.
Main street view of Port Perry
On a typical work day Merle serves breakfast at around 9 am. She gets up around 7:00 am to prepare breakfast; some of the preparation work is already done the night before. At 8:00 am her live-in assistant Wendy joins her and helps her make breakfast which always consists of three courses: fresh fruit, cereal and an egg dish. All the items are accompanied by pastry, for example cinnamon or coffee cake; fresh juice, coffee or tea are also served.
Breakfast is served on the dining patio
At noon Merle handles checkout while Wendy looks after cleaning and laundry. Merle used to do all the work herself until about 10 years ago, but she is happy to have live-in help. Wendy’s husband Bob assists with property maintenance and handles all the lawn-mowing for this large estate. Despite her advanced age, Merle has found creative ways to keep running her beloved bed and breakfast. Merle still enjoys hosting the guests and loves to share her beautiful house and property with her visitors. The price for a weekend getaway is surprisingly affordable: a night for two will run between $80 to $90 (Canadian), and the price for a single traveller is $60 to $70 per night. All of these prices include a multi-course breakfast and access to a swimming pool, a country pond and a beautifully maintained expansive property. A stay at the Landfall Farm B&B definitely allows for a relaxing and affordable getaway in a beautiful environment.
Beautiful flowers, looked after by Merle