After our morning walking tour of downtown Stirling and a quick lunch we were ready to check in at our luxurious abode for our Toronto travel getaway: the Old Carriage House B&B which is located just west of the downtown shopping district of Stirling. Walking up the stairs I admired this Victorian Italianate mansion whose porch was decorated in a winter theme.
Tyla Tessier, who runs the B&B together with her husband Lacy, welcomed me and helped me carry my luggage up the stairs. I got to stay in the lavishly decked out Royal Room which came equipped with a giant king-size four poster bed, a flat screen TV with DVD player and a comfortable sitting area and fire place.
My travel partner Gary was staying in the more modest, yet cozy Quinte Room, equipped with a double bed and overlooking the main street. Of course I had a peek at the third room, called the Hastings Room, which comes with a queen-size bed and a soothing colour scheme. It is obvious that Tyla has a very gifted touch when it comes to interior decorating.
The upstairs bathroom is huge and fitted out with a decorative pedestal sink and spacious Jacuzzi tub. Candles were gently illuminating this private retreat and beckoning to sit back and relax with a warm bath. But I had no time as I was too curious to explore this historic mansion that was built in the late 1870s.
Downstairs I absolutely loved the colourfully decorated sunroom which has a sitting area and several breakfast tables. Although rather chilly on this cold winter day, this room is used to serve breakfast to the guests during the summer months.
After settling in, Tyla made some tea, a delicious variety called “Lady Grey”, and I made myself comfortable in the elegantly decorated living room. Tyla explained that during the 1940s the mansion was owned by a certain Dr. Carlton, a medical expert who is still remembered by some of the village’s residents to this day. Finally, Tyla and I had time for a chat.
Tyla’s parents purchased this impressive structure three years ago, undertook some significant renovations and opened the bed and breakfast in 2011. Her father’s family is originally from nearby Prince Edward County, so there is a local connection. Tyla and Lacy took over in 2012, after relocating from Toronto, and redecorated the entire property. Tyla said that the couple was ready to make a bold move out of the city and that she absolutely enjoys her new country lifestyle.
As we chatted, Tyla mentioned that she actually has two other jobs in addition to running a bed and breakfast. Together with her husband Lacy, she operates a company that produces t-shirts from recycled materials (www.valiantbob.com). This clothing label only uses 100% organic cotton and recycled fabrics and the couple have worked very hard on finding suppliers that provide eco-friendly raw materials. All cotton is produced by suppliers that subscribe to fair wage principles. In running the B&B, Tyla and Lacy are also committed to sustainable cleaning processes. They only use vegan shampoos and conditioners and cleaning materials that have not been tested on animals.
Her third job also demonstrates Tyla’s love for nature: she holds a full-time job with the Ontario Water Buffalo Company, a local farm that raises 200 water buffalos and produces various dairy and meat products. Tyla is in charge of milking the water buffalos, feeding the calves and she also looks after various other chores. She has absolutely fallen in love with these huge bovine animals whom she describes as “big dogs” because of their affectionate nature. This city girl has definitely made a successful transition to the country life.
Both Lacy and Tyla have extensive experience in the hospitality industry, and Lacy also works as a server at a fine dining restaurant called “Caper’s Brasserie and Wine Bar” in Belleville. Their commitment to providing an enjoyable hospitality experience is evident in all the little touches throughout the bed and breakfast. Tyla added that they love the bed and breakfast experience and have hosted guests from as far away as France and Germany.
Finally, Tyla took me into the kitchen to meet her husband who was hard at work at the stove, preparing house-made caramel for tomorrow’s breakfast. I had to get ready too for my evening program: dinner at a local country restaurant called Chubby’s and a naughty, humorous performance of “Alice in Wonderland”, right across the street from the Old Carriage House, at the Stirling Festival Theatre.
It was an absolute pleasure meeting this hardworking couple. I made a mental note to myself that for anybody interested in a Toronto travel escape for the weekend, a stay at the Old Carriage House B&B and a performance at the Stirling Festival Theatre is definitely a great combination.
Image Gallery of the Old Carriage House: