ROOM FOR IM­PROVE­MENT

Ottawa Sun - New Homes - - HOMES -

h, Ni­a­gara-On-TheLake. Sweet, sweet Ni­a­gara-On-The-Lake. Dur­ing our 12-year Toronto ten­ure (thus far) we’ve made the one-hour, 45-minute jour­ney along The QEW to the his­toric town on many oc­ca­sions.

And, such is the glo­ri­ous ex­pe­ri­ence each time we visit, we’ve pledged to am­plify the fre­quency of our trips. But of course sched­ules stran­gle and work gets in the way…

Dur­ing our penul­ti­mate visit (fea­tured in th­ese very pages a cou­ple of years past) we had a ball, and found our­selves en­tirely cap­ti­vated, as usual, by the joys of the charm­ing des­ti­na­tion.

How­ever with best in­ten­tions, it wasn’t un­til last week we re­turned, this time ac­com­pa­nied by Carmel and David, fam­ily from Scot­land, who’re on a Cana­dian tour.

Rooms in NOTL tend to re­serve quickly, and, as fate would have it, the var­i­ous ac­com­mo­da­tions in which we’d pre­vi­ously lodged were fully booked. So we took a leap of faith and tried The Stock­ing House (www.the­stock­ing­house.com) a hostelry about which we’d heard great things. It’s fair to sug­gest we weren’t dis­ap­pointed.

The B&B is named af­ter the prop­erty’s first owner (Jared Stock­ing) who ran a lo­cal hab­er­dash­ery. Al­most 200 years later, the house has been trans­formed into a lux­u­ri­ous des­ti­na­tion — a white clap­board painted beauty that boasts a trio of beau­ti­fully ap­pointed suites and a stan­dard of ser­vice more akin to a five-star ho­tel than a pri­vately owned guest house.

Pos­i­tively aching with an­tiques and pe­riod de­tail, the su­per chic home was re­cently em­bel­lished by new own­ers Scott and Paul who, since tak­ing own­er­ship last sum­mer, have ‘pol­ished’ every­thing to a new level of ap­point­ment.

Sculp­tures, tra­di­tional (and mod­ern) art­work and comfy up­hol­stery punc­tu­ate the al­ready fine lines of a beau­ti­ful res­i­dence: the re­vamped look truly is a suc­cess­ful mar­riage of old and new.

If plan­ning a visit, pre­pare your­self for an as­tound­ingly good break­fast. Whilst meals vary on a daily ba­sis, ours in­cluded fresh fruit served with gra­nola and yo­gurt, de­li­cious baked patis­serie, Eggs Bene­dict and never end­ing fruit juice, cof­fee and tea.

In­deed so sated were we, af­ter our enor­mous feast, we ac­tu­ally skipped lunch as Carmel and David pro­claimed it the finest break­fast they’d ever en­joyed.

Aye, it’s fair to re­port we loved our lil’ so­journ in Ni­a­gara-On-The Lake. And be­cause the weather Gods played ball, we were able to en­joy The Stock­ing House’s lav­ish gar­dens, a man­i­cured ter­rain which added so much to the whole ex­pe­ri­ence.

Courtesy of per­go­las, ponds and foun­tains, The B&B’s out­door area is the per­fect place in which to re­lax. That said, the lux­u­ri­ously at­tired suites will also vie for your at­ten­tion, thanks to four-poster beds, fine linens, comfy so­fas, fluffy tow­els, flat screen TVs and cof­fee mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties, you’ll find it hard to tear your­self away.

As wine lovers, we were fas­ci­nated, dur­ing our trip, to ex­pe­ri­ence the Trius, Wayne Gret­zky and Peller Es­tates vine­yards, whilst also mak­ing time to sam­ple sev­eral of the town’s gas­tro­nomic out­posts — one par­tic­u­larly solid rec­ol­lec­tion is The Old Win­ery.

The multi-room trat­to­ria, set as it is in a re­fur­bished win­ery, serves Tus­canin­spired food and de­li­cious wood-fired piz­zas. In­formed staff and a stel­lar wine menu seal the deal.

Whilst Ni­a­gara-On-TheLake’s food scene cer­tainly hit the mark, there ex­ists an abun­dance of al­ter­na­tive ac­tiv­i­ties to en­sure vis­i­tor in­ter­est re­mains piqued. The town is also home, for ex­am­ple, to ex­cel­lent shop­ping, man­age­able cy­cling tours and to The Shaw Fes­ti­val, a se­ries of the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions (run­ning April to Novem­ber) which fea­ture the work of Ge­orge Bernard Shaw (and his con­tem­po­raries) as well as pro­duc­tions per­tain­ing to his era, the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.

Mat­ters the­atri­cal aside, and be­ing that ours is a dé­cor and de­sign col­umn, we’ll wrap to­day’s epis­tle by ref­er­enc­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural stock that pro­lif­er­ates Ni­a­gara-On-The-Lake’s pretty streets, es­pe­cially in The Old Town.

With more than its fair share of Colo­nial style build­ings and picket fence fronted heritage homes, the area makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing walk­ing tour.

We’ve never made any bones of the fact we thor­oughly adore Toronto, and hav­ing such con­ve­nient ac­cess to a town like Ni­a­gara-On-The-Lake makes our ur­ban ex­is­tence even bet­ter.

Carmel and David have pledged to re­turn as soon as their di­ary per­mits, and we’ll al­most cer­tainly go back in the in­terim. For this is a re­mark­able des­ti­na­tion, one with spec­ta­cle suf­fi­cient to sat­isfy even the most de­sign con­scious, food lov­ing, wine quaffing and heritage hun­gry vis­i­tor…

(For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, and to book The Stock­ing House, visit www.the­stock­ing­house.com; dis­cover more at www.ni­a­garaon­the­lake. com).

The Stock­ing House — a heritage home with a bright fu­ture — is named af­ter the prop­erty’s first owner Jared Stock­ing.

Great es­capes — every room of­fers lit­tle nooks and seat­ing ar­eas to get away from it all.

Pull up a chair and en­joy an oa­sis of calm in the pri­vate back gar­den.

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