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Historic Bed and Breakfasts

What better way to experience Canada's heritage than by staying in a historic bed and breakfast? Canada has a vast network of heritage homes in rural and urban settings that have been converted to bed and breakfasts.  For a traveller, they are a relatively cheap and probably far more interesting lodging alternative to the more standard hotel and motel chains.  In fact, historic bed and breakfasts give the traveller a chance to experience up close interactions with owners who not only care about the history of their homes but who also have intimate knowledge of the attractions of their local communities.  Very often, a bed and breakfast will be located in a neighbourhood that provides opportunities to walk to nearby sites of interest.Birch Lodge, City of Revelstoke 2004 / Manoir Birch, villde Revelstoke 2004

One good example of a historic house that is now a bed and breakfast is Minto Manor in Revelstoke, British Columbia.  Also known as Birch Lodge, this house was built over a century ago in 1905, and has been an integral part of the history of Revelstoke.  Constructed for the prominent businessman Robert Howson - who had formerly worked at laying tracks through the Rocky Mountains for the Canadian Pacific Railway - the house will captivate the visitor with its neoclassical revival design which was set to fit into the picturesque local mountain landscape.  One might want to take note of the stained glass windows, or the second floor windows which help frame the mountains in the background, or the large wraparound veranda which has given previous owners - and now guests - the perfect setting to gaze out at the nearby breathtaking scenery of Mt. Revelstoke National Park and the Columbia River valley.

J.B. Monk Residence, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch 2007 / Résidence J.B. Monk, direction de resources historiques du manitoba 2007In Winnipeg, a traveller might be interested in staying at a charming historic house that was built in 1882.  The Beechmount Bed and Breakfast, also known as the J. B. Monk Residence, is a large brick mansion constructed in the appealing and whimsical Queen Anne Revival architectural style.   It displays Winnipeg's optimism during a speculative land boom in the late 19th century.  One of the oldest homes in the city, and located in a wooded setting on Armstrong's Point along the Assiniboine River, this is an attractive Victorian home with ornate chimneys, patterned brick, numerous dormers and large veranda.  If you are someone interested in Winnipeg's local history, or someone who wants to be within walking distance of the historic provincial legislative buildings and downtown's Exchange District, or if you are interested in the peaceful and natural surroundings of the Assiniboine River, this is the place for you! Bread and Rosses Country Inn, Nova Scotia Heritage Division 2005 /Auberge Bread and Roses, Heritage Division de la Nouvelle-Écosse 2005

On the East Coast, there is a wonderful historic place where you can stay while in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia: the Bread and Roses Inn.  This is a beautiful mansion built in an appealing Queen Anne Revival style, and in this particular case, the architectural design is considered very rare for Nova Scotia.  The property on which it sits was purchased in 1888 for $2,400 - almost $60,000 by today's standards.  The name "Bread and Roses" comes from James Oppenheim's poem about a female textile workers' strike in Massachusetts.  According to the poem, some women carried a banner which read: "We want bread and roses, too."  Part of this inn's charm comes from its rich and varied interior woodwork which is certainly worth a look.

Knox's Dam Bed and Breakfast, Donna Collings 2007 / Couette et café Knox's Dam, Donna Collings 2007Another charming Maritime bed and breakfast is located in Victoria Cross, Prince Edward Island and is called Knox's Dam Bed and Breakfast.  Built in 1901 in a Colonial Revival style of architecture, the wood-shingled home was once a farmhouse.  In 1907, it was sold to Montague Electric Company, and became the lodging for the hydroelectric supervisor Robert Clements and his family.  It is worth noting that Robert's son Gilbert later served as PEI's Lieutenant Governor.  In 1939, William Knox became the electric company's supervisor, and after the dam stopped playing a role in generating electricity in 1955, Knox bought the house.  It remains in the Knox family to this day, and they operate it as a bed and breakfast with three rooms available for visitors.  With the same family continuously occupying this dwelling since the 1930s, the public accommodation this inn provides is a fantastic way of experiencing the heritage of the community of Victoria Cross.  

One of the more unusual bed and breakfasts on the East Coast is Newfoundland and Labrador's Cape Anguille Light Tower.  Located on the most westerly point of Cape Codroy, the landmark octagonal tower is complete with a red glass lantern.  The lighthouse has been Cape Anguille Light Tower, Department of Fisheries and Oceans 2000 / Phare du cap Anguille, Ministères des Pêches et Océans, 2000used to guide Canadian and international vessels through treacherous waters, and its light could be seen out to a range of 15 nautical miles.  Built in 1907, the lightkeeper's residence has withstood the test of time as well as the extreme weather conditions of Newfoundland, and now you can experience the beauty of the Atlantic coast by staying in this home which is now an inn.  For those who enjoy a non-conventional bed and breakfast experience in a rugged, remote location, Cape Anguille Light Tower is certainly a good choice.  With the new Heritage Lighthouse Act now in effect, there will be more opportunities for this kind of travel experience as more communities decide to protect their historic lighthouses and give them new functions.   

The historic bed and breakfasts of Canada are ideal for both weary travellers and heritage enthusiasts - there are many places to choose from when planning the next Canadian adventure.  Many heritage bed and breakfasts are registered with BBCanada, a directory of over 10,000 listings across Canada.  BBCanada gives online access to maps, images, amenity information, and even reservations.  If you prefer the intimate setting of a house while travelling, then the bed and breakfasts in BBCanada's catalogue are an excellent choice.  If you want to find a historic bed and breakfast in which to stay, then you can also search the Canadian Register of Historic Places, and you will find that there are numerous historic homes across the country that are also bed and breakfasts! Combining comfort with culture, historic bed and breakfasts offer experiences you will never forget!