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.]

In the afternoon Merle does some gardening – she still handles all the weeding of the flowerbeds by herself. In the late afternoon new guests arrive, and Merle looks after checking them in. On days where she does not have guests she does her food shopping. Like everyone over the age of 80, she has to pass a driving test every two years. When she took her last test her driving examiner was surprised at her great memory and mental sharpness. She attributes her mental agility to doing crossword puzzles and sudoku.

Dining room at Landfall Farm B&B

Famous guests have also stayed at the Landfall Farm B&B: the real person behind the 1996 movie “Fly Away Home”, Bill Lishman who taught a flock of Canadian geese new migration patterns using his ultralight aircraft, is one of Merle’s neighbours. The movie, starring Jeff Daniels, was shot in the area and the director of the film stayed at the Landfall Farm B&B. More recently the young actress Aria Wallace who plays “Roxie Hunter” in the TV movie “Roxie Hunter and the Mystery of the Moody Ghost” stayed at this bed and breakfast with her mother. Port Perry is a popular destination for movie makers; Merle ran into Gene Hackman once in the hardware store when he was filming a movie in town.

Beautiful flowers adorn the grounds

We also had a chance to talk a bit about the history of the Landfall Farm property. Samuel and Sarah Ferguson, immigrants from Ireland, came to Canada in 1836 when this part of Ontario first opened up to new settlers. They painstakingly cleared the trees, removed big boulders from the fields and started setting up a farm with oxen, horses and cattle. A plaque by the front door attests to the official heritage designation of this property. Over time the Fergusons accumulated about 1000 acres of land, which was distributed upon their passing to their 10 or 12 children. The farm was owned by descendents of the Fergusons until the late 1950s. The next decade saw a few short-term owners until Merle purchased it in 1968.

Harbour view in Port Perry

The barns on the property are even older than the house, and they date back roughly to the 1840s. Merle loves these barns and would never take them down, as so many other property owners have done. All the beams in the barn are hand-hewn and the entire structure is held together by wooden pegs. The original barns had no metal nails whatsoever.

One of the historic barns at Landfall Farm B&B

Slowly but surely it was time for dinner, so Merle and I resolved to talk more tomorrow. By now it was raining, and I decided to head into Port Perry for a quiet dinner. I ended up choosing Miguel’s Restaurant where I had a heaping and tasty plate full of nachos which were spiced up with a Mexican salsa and some feta cheese. I could not even finish my entire plate, and fully satisfied after this savoury meal I headed back to the bed and breakfast for a restful night of sleep.

Fresh fruit salad as the first course

Grey skies and drizzly weather greeted me the next morning. Right at 9:00 am I went downstairs and the breakfast table was already set in the screened outdoor porch. Three other guests had arrived last night: a young couple and their mother. We sat down at the table and had a delightful conversation. The two young people had just broken out of the rat race themselves and had ventured forth to become owners of a café in a suburb of Toronto. They were truly enjoying their new found independence and added that whenever they work long hours these days, they know they are doing it because it is their own business. Another pleasant B&B experience…

A hearty breakfast

After breakfast the young couple went to check out some items at Merle’s antique store and ended up purchasing a few unusual historic kitchen implements. Once the couple had checked out Merle had a bit of extra time for me. Finally the weather had cleared up and the sun was shining. Merle and I hopped on her golf cart, her main means of transportation on her huge property, and rode a short stretch down the pathway to her barns. Over the years, Merle has developed some balance problems which makes it hard for her to walk long distances. The golf cart is the perfect solution for getting around on her estate. Her dog Sam joined us on the excursion and was running happily alongside.

Merle and her golf cart

Merle took me inside the historic barn and explained the hand-hewn construction and joining technique. The morning sun was flooding in between the wooden planks, one of Merle’s favourite photo motifs. When the property was first settled, the barns were used to house farm animals. Granaries were located here as well. Today the barn is Merle’s object of pride.

Inside the historic barn, a masterpiece from the 1840s

We continued on the golf cart down to the pond and I had a chance to admire this secluded nature area in good weather. There is even a small brook running on the edge of the property, and the pond is full of frogs and goldfish. Lawn chairs invite you to sit down and relax in the serenity of this country paradise. No wonder Merle enjoys living here so much.

Big panorama windows in the living room

Well, after a nice brief country excursion it was time to say goodbye. I picked up my luggage and had a pleasant conversation with Merle’s assistant Wendy who was cleaning my room. I then said goodbye to this courageous and entrepreneurial woman who at almost 90 years of age still runs a successful bed and breakfast. Merle’s story reminded me that in many ways age really is just a number. There is definitely an inspiring lesson here for all of us….

Beautiful flowers at the Landfall Farm B&B

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