Gateway to the Traditions
of an English Country Home
by Chris McBeath
When world weary people think of great getaways, they often conjure up visions and memories of the best British bed and breakfasts.
In my memory, staying at one of these is rather like being invited on a 'country house weekend' where walks in bracing sea air wind their way towards afternoon drinks on the porch, which stretch into dinner and an early night amidst luxurious comfort. And all the while, charming hosts anticipate your every need with utmost discretion. MacLure House, which lies on Rathtrevor Beach just south of Parksville, BC, reminds me of all of these traditions.
When we arrived, tired and stressed after a hectic week, we were greeted by Penny McBride, who owns this Inn with her husband Michael. Created by famous Victoria architect Samuel Maclure, this haven by the sea bursts at the seams with history. The house retains much of its traditional character, and was designed in the style of Scottish hunting lodges, as its original name, "Newbie Lodge," reflected. Lovers of history and architecture will find something in every nook and corner including prints of other Samuel MacLure designs and heritage homes, as well as more personal paraphernalia such as a letter from one of the children of the house in its early days.
Up a solid staircase and you'll pass through a landing filled with overflowing bookcases, before going on to one of the four guest rooms. Choose a garden view (as was the preference of Rudyard Kipling, author of classics The Jungle Book and The Man who Would be King when he stayed here), or an ocean view. Either way, you'll enjoy intoxicating fresh air, birdsong and a wonderful sense of history.
We opted for the Ocean Suite with its beautiful Victorian furniture, rose-toned wallpaper and cosy sitting area. We immediately flung open the windows to the sea air and, as we settled in, Penny brought us a tray of home baked goodies, and tea served in fine china. But with the sunshine and waves beckoning, we could only resist the view for so long.
Making our way down to Rathtrevor Beach, the tide was out as far as it could go, leaving miles of sand for our bare feet to enjoy. The views in this part of the world are spectacular: the Georgia Straight filled with bird life, Lasquet and Texada Islands that lie like sleeping whales on the horizon, and the snow topped Coast Mountain range beyond. And because the waters here are so shallow, the surf is a paddling delight. This makes Rathtrevor a family-friendly beach offering plenty of entertainment from gathering shells and building sand castles to searching for crabs and other creatures.
More ambitious and athletic guests can hike the forest and ocean trails at neighbouring Rathtrevor Provincial Park, or take advantage of the pool, sauna, hot tub, and tennis courts at the adjacent Beach Acres Resort.
All the sea breezes had worked up an appetite and while the Maclure House restaurant is a local favourite, having it at the bottom of stairs simply added to the feeling of being a pampered guest on a country house weekend. Then, deliciously tired, we enjoyed a nightcap in our Ocean Suite sitting room where wine glasses and chocolates had been thoughtfully laid out.
In the morning, we found a tray of coffee and juice placed just outside our door - an eye opener for those not quite ready to face the world. Then in was breakfast on the patio. On chillier mornings, the dining room is set and warmed by a wood-burning fire. Breakfast is then served on the patio or in the dining room where a fire is lit on cold mornings. In addition to appetizers such as Swiss Muesli, fresh fruit and freshly baked croissants, muffins and scones, we were offered a choice of French Toast or a traditional English breakfast. We greedily chose the latter. Penny cheerfully accommodated the dietary restrictions of another guest, peppering her culinary offerings and endless cups of coffee with local history, anecdotes and suggestions for the dayís activities.
It's a hospitality that has created a very loyal following to Maclure House and guests return frequently for family reunions, weddings, anniversaries and special memories. But more than this, Maclure House is an assurance that the best bed and breakfast traditions are alive and well.
If You Go:
11-1015 East Island Highway
Parksville, BC V9P 2E4
Web site: www:maclurehouse.com
Hosts: Penny and Michael McBride
Vancouver and other lower mainland travelers: B.C. Ferries accommodates travelers from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay terminals to Duke Point or
Departure Bay. General Information for sailing schedule is 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779)
For our State-side Neighbors: The Washington State Ferries will meet your needs 206-464-6400.
Take Island Highway #19- one-half hour north of Nanaimo to the first Parksville exit.
Turn right at Beach Acres, just before Rathtrevor Provincial Park.
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