Gwenmar Bed and Breakfast
Looking through a Canadian magazine while living in Oxon Hill, patient Maryland in the fall of 1978, Joy read about a fledgling bed and breakfast organization hoping to start-up in Canada. Knowing our return date (i.e. when we would leave the U.S. and go back home) and intrigued by the concept, we applied to be in the association’s first book. So started 17 years of Gwenmar Bed & Breakfast.
Our Brandon home was well suited in many ways to be a B & B. It was a big house with 5 bedrooms and most were available – certainly after the mid 1980s, as our 4 children were by then “out of the nest”. Brandon could never be thought of as a major vacation destination but it was a convenient stopping place for those travelling to Calgary from the East or to Toronto from the West. We rarely had more than one family (usually a couple) at a time. The routine basically went this way: Travelers would phone (in later years some e-mailed us) and told us when they were coming. We would give them the basic instructions on how to get to our place from the Trans Canada Highway. Usually they would arrive mid-afternoon. We would visit, advise them as to a suitable Brandon restaurant, depending on their taste and budget, then wait until they returned from dinner. We’d visit again, usually on the big front verandah, then make sure they got a good breakfast the next morning before they headed off. Our specialty was asparagus omelette with but a few minutes between asparagus growing in the garden and it become a scrumptious breakfast entree. In 17 years we never had one person stay with us that we wouldn’t have invited back. Sometimes they forgot to pay – actually I think that only happened twice. We were surprised – as we had forgotten too – to get a phone call from Regina from the erring couple and the assurance that “the cheque would be in the mail”. It always was.
Our guests were so varied. One man had played professional baseball with the St.Louis Browns (before the Cardinals). Author Carol Shields and family came on two different occasions! We took a picture of every guest and placed these photos in (annual) scrapbooks. They still make fascinating reading. Although we were still “in the business” in 1998 when we sold our home and moved to British Columbia, we cut back on our advertising and had few guests at the last.