Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maritime Inns

Having just returned last week from a wonderful vacation in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, I'm going through photos, trying to decide what to do with them, how to share them and how many to share. My iPhone was put to such good use but I'm sure I can't put that many photos on the blog.

However, there are a lot of photos in this post - it's a long one! Just to warn you!

We stayed in a variety of lodgings: large chain hotels, historic hotels, country inns, small family-owned motels and even a posh golf resort. Here's a sampling of our accommodations. We also visited but did not stay at a number of old hotels which were very interesting.

On the way east we stayed at
Hôtel Terrasse Dufferin in Quebec City, an ancient 22-room hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River just a block away from the Le Château Frontenac, another historic grand hotel.

It is adjacent to the US Consulate, which made us a bit anxious given the American paranoia over security. You can see the heavy stanchions ringing the exterior of the building (they extend around the corner too) 

Our room was on the second floor - our window is the open one on the right which abuts the Consulate. We were there for two nights and never heard a peep from them. The room was surprisingly large and had a large bathroom and a microwave and refrigerator-equipped kitchen - very comfortable - and that front window looked out on this marvelous view over Terrasse Dufferin and across the river toward Lévis.

I took this next shot from the Terrasse from just below our hotel, the white building with the red top. You can see how the Château Frontenac dominates the space.

Last time we were in Quebec City, we stayed at Hôtel Château Bellevue, another old building diagonally across the park from the Château Frontenac. 

We stopped in for a wee chat and they explained that since our stay in 2001 it has been totally renovated and now has a modern interior with a spa-like atmosphere. They run spa packages through the CF.

It's always fun to spend time at the Château Frontenac even though not an overnight guest. 

With old photographs on the walls, clean and stylish restrooms, a delightful gift shop and Starbucks in the lower level, it's a great place to warm up and spend time after walking up and down the streets of the old town. In 2001 we really enjoyed the tour of the Château, led by a young bellman in period costume.

these little guys were calling to me through the gift shop window, but were a bit pricey

After two days in Quebec City we headed east and found ourselves the next night in Fredericton, New Brunswick where we stayed at the Crowne Plaza Lord Beaverbrook. Named after Lord Beaverbrook, it opened in 1948. It was owned by the New Brunswick government and operated at that time by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Through the years, renovations and additions, many of them by current owners,  Aquilini Investment Group, have brought the Lord Beaverbrook up to modern standards and it felt quite luxurious to stay there.

Lord Beaverbrook, also known as Max Aitkin, was born (1879) in Maple, Ontario, but spent a great deal of time in the Maritime provinces as a business tycoon, politician and writer. He died in 1964.

One of the great things about staying at the Lord Beaverbrook was finding Isaac's Way next door. We knew nothing about it ahead of time, so it was a pleasant surprise to find such a fine restaurant in the County Building just a short walk away .

John MacDermid Photography

The ambiance was cheerful, with terra-cotta walls hung with brightly coloured paintings by New Brunswick artists.

You are encouraged to walk through the restaurant to view all the paintings, then make silent bids on the ones you like. Monies raised are used to sponsor local underprivileged children to take lessons in the arts: theatre, dance, music and art.

The creative menu emphasizes food made from scratch, using locally-grown fresh ingredients. Dinner was a treat. This was one of my favourite meals of the entire trip.

The next day, in Digby, Nova Scotia we stayed at the Digby Pines, another historical (1905) hotel on the Fundy Shore.

Digby Pines

For years it was another of the great hotels operated by Canadian Pacific Railways. Sold in 1957, it is currently owned by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Digby Pines Nova Scotia Resort

Still in Nova Scotia, this time on the southern shore, we stayed at the Sail Inn in Lunenberg, a quaint 4-bedroom inn that offers its guests an amazing gourmet breakfast and the opportunity of a 2-hour morning sail. 

Here's a shot of our room. Our front window looked out onto the harbour and the recently refurbished Bluenose II (actually, they were still painting and prepping it while we were there)

Looking out our front window

Gourmet Breakfast

The bathroom had been renovated into a spa-like space.

Room 2

Bluenose II
You can see what an amazing day it was and you're probably wondering if we went for the complementary sail. We didn't. It was very cool that morning and we decided instead to get back in the car to explore Mahone Bay and Chester, where we had lunch at the Kiwi Cafe and then on to Peggy's Cove where we and a lot of other people scrambled about on the rocks.

Welcoming interior

If the day had been a bit warmer we could have eaten outside

but it was very cosy inside.

One of many seafood chowders I sampled on the trip - every one different
Peggy's Cove

See that piece of roof on the left? It's part of the Sou'Wester Restaurant, where there's a live-streaming web cam looking toward the lighthouse: fun to check from time to time, especially on a sunny day or during one of those epic Atlantic storms. Have a look at Peggy's Cove Lighthouse web cam.

Anyway, now on with the trip. 

In Halifax we stayed at an unremarkable big chain hotel with no breakfast which was perfect - we could get something creative and yummy to eat at the amazing Halifax Seaport Market. I've been following the Market on Twitter for quite a while now and it was a place I was really pumped to visit.

Sheila Duffett's booth

The Seafront area has a live-streaming web cam pointed toward it and you can often see very large ocean liners docked there. That's Georges Island out in the middle.

While in Halifax we walked several times along the harbour boardwalk, toured the Maritime Museum, visited the Citadel, witnessed the ceremonial firing of the noon cannon and went on a food tour. We also walked through the Botanic Gardens and visited Point Pleasant Park and, of course, had quite a few tasty meals (Chives Bistro). Halifax is a great (and hilly!) little city and is currently experiencing a building boom, which is both good and bad news (traffic!!)

From Halifax we wended our way across the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton Island and Ingonish, where we would like to have stayed here: Keltic Lodge, an incredibly beautiful hotel with a breath-taking view and Highlands Links, a Stanley Thompson golf course (where Don played golf while I opted for hiking trails):

Keltic Lodge

but it was a bit pricey, even in the off-season, so we just enjoyed a late lunch (seafood chowder for me) there after golfing and hiking, then opted for the Sea Breeze Motel, a surprisingly large family-run facility.

Our unit was on the left end. The owners' house is the second building on the right. Our next-unit neighbors, whose names we never discovered, were from Yukon Territories and we enjoyed our lengthy conversation with them. The view out our front window was spectacular the afternoon of our arrival.

When the clouds moved in, it was easier to see Keltic Lodge across the way.

The next interesting old (1926) hotel we visited was the Pictou Lodge Beachfront Resort, located near the PEI ferry docks at Caribou, Nova Scotia. It's an old-style vacation hotel, with log construction, a small lake with cottages around it, an extensive beach on the Northumberland Strait and an excellent restaurant. The hotel used to be owned by Canadian National Railway but was sold in 1957. We didn't stay there, but enjoyed walking around and, from their beach, spotted one of the ferries heading to PEI.

NFL does not stand for Newfoundland and has nothing to do with football: it is the logo for Northumberland Ferries Limited

In PEI we visited (though did not stay overnight) the fabulous Inn at Bay Fortune near Souris and had a very tasty breakfast there. Chef Michael Smith has moved on from being The Inn Chef, but not before putting the Inn on the culinary map and he maintains an amicable relationship with the Inn and all of Prince Edward Island where he still lives.

The woman we were talking to (and who served breakfast to us and the other guests) was very friendly and offered to show us a couple of rooms which were completely charming. One of the former owners of the Inn was the late Canadian actor, Colleen Dewhurst (Marilla, Anne of Green Gables) who used the Rose Room. I was shy about photographing the rooms she showed us, so have inserted these photos from the Inn website. The rooms seemed to me to have been redecorated since these photos were taken (i.e. they were a lot nicer than this) 

    Green Room
    The Rose Room
Green Room
The Green Room

The view from the Inn

I had intended to take a pic of my Inn at Bay Fortune breakfast, but by the time I remembered, it had disappeared!

The porch from which you can enjoy the view
How inviting is this!

The gardens around the Inn have been carefully tended and were a riot of colour. There were lots of nasturtiums, a sentimental favorite and useful for decorating dinner plates.

On the north shore of  PEI we stayed for 2 nights at Crowbush Cove, one of the Rodd family of resorts.

It has a "destination" golf course on site and a fantastic beach (PEI has the most fabulous beaches!! Must come back in the summertime!!) It was also close to the Confederation Trail and Greenwich PEI National Park which made my very happy and kept me busy for most of a day.

The large windows in the welcoming reception area have a wonderful view (even if it's only a golf course - wink, wink)

We had lunch at the Clubhouse

I sat at the beach for a while

then sat by the pool (as you can see, not busy at this time of year)

and admired the birds floating overhead

We spent half a day visiting Charlottetown, enjoying its small but vibrant farmers' market where we had breakfast and walked around downtown at the harbour.

Wishing I had a kitchen to make use of all this bounty!

Yum! Huevos rancheros made fresh by some Mexican women with a stand at the market.

Then it was time to drive across the Confederation Bridge to New Brunswick. After a night in Moncton in an ordinary hotel, we spent the next day exploring the Fundy Coast of New Brunswick (Hopewell Rocks and Cape Enrage - lots of photos), ending up that night in St. Andrew's by-the-Sea where we scored a room at The Algonquin Hotel, another of those famous old Railroad (mostly CPR) Hotels.

The Algonquin, a Tudor-style building, opened in June 1889 and over the years, besides us, has hosted every Prime Minister of Canada since Confederation, several US Presidents, including both Roosevelts and Lyndon B. Johnson and royal visitors, Charles and Diana. 

The hotel has just recently re-opened after a massive renovation. Our spacious room was spectacularly decorated and comfortable, modern but with period details preserved.

The bathroom was a compact, but efficient space and I was particularly taken with the flat entrance into the shower and the floor drain on the side. It worked well. 

This was the view looking out from our juliet balcony. 

The halls were decorated with many enlargements of old photos.

There was a wonderful deck to hang out at just down the hall from our second-floor room.

with a spectacular view -

We started our dinner out on this patio 

then moved inside after the sun set. 

The dining room was a decorative feast for the eyes and dinner was pretty special too. 

Our young waitress, who hailed from Grand Manan Island, just offshore a ways, told us about the new swimming pool and 3 story waterslide that were part of the new renovation so we stopped by to see it. I absolutely loved this place and could have been happy here for a few days, maybe even tried the waterslide, but by now we had been away for 2 weeks and it was time to start for home.

The next morning we set out for Maine, spending a night in an unremarkable motel in Bar Harbour where the traffic was extremely off-putting. (So busy, especially compared with the quiet roads of the Canadian Maritime Provinces) So after one night we set out for the Eastern Townships (what a beautiful part of Quebec this is!), spent a night at the Holiday Inn in Saint-Hyacinthe, then back home to the GTA the next day. 

Everybody is asking about the fall colours. Just bits of them in the Maritimes, more in St. Andrews, then spectacular colour in Maine and the Eastern Townships. This video was taken from a scenic look-out beside the road in Maine.

We both could have spent a lot more time in the Maritimes and the Eastern Townships. There is so much to see and do. So much delicious food to consume. So many more villages, old hotels and inns to explore. And, Don would say, so many more golf courses to try.

I know this was an extremely long post and hope you reached the end without swearing and tearing your hair out. There is sure to be another post soon with hiking photos and maybe a few other selected goodies.

Thanks for reading!