Bed and Breakfasts in Newfoundland
Fishers’ Loft Inn B&B maintains look and feel of charming Bonavista Peninsula
Bed and breakfast travelers will find more than they bargain for in a B&B when they visit Fishers’ Loft Inn, crafted to embrace and enhance the eastern Canadian Maritime landscape. The five wooden buildings comprising the charming at Port Rexton on Newfoundland’s Bonavista Peninsula seem to have stood patiently on the steep hillside for decades.
Architecturally, the two largest are best defined as second-generation Trinity Bay salt boxes, circa 1860-1900, a popular style of summer home in rural Newfoundland. They were, in fact, completed in 1999, and the result is an inn whose ambiance is quietly understated, even subtle. The inn was so successful, in 2003 owners John and Peggy Fisher designed and built two additional buildings, Forest Ridge – a third salt box – and Mansard, with its concave lower roof. While all five buildings are distinctive, they blend agreeably with one another and the landscape.
Five buildings may suggest a large-scale operation, yet all told, Fishers’ Loft Inn has only seven suites and 14 bedrooms. And the owners want to keep it this way. “If we were to expand, maybe the inn would lose some of the individuality we want to preserve,” John said. Recognition of its reputation arrived in 2003 when it earned the coveted Orchid Award as Newfoundland’s top-ranked inn.
The concept of an upscale inn overlooking island-studded Ship Cove took root in the late 1980s, when John Fisher visited Trinity Bay on business.
Enchanted with the region, he and Peggy bought a cottage on a gravel road that leads from Route 230 to the village of Port Rexton. The cottage became their year-round home; they built a four-room extension and entered the bed-and-breakfast business.
Fine, but the Fishers’ ambition was to operate a country inn of some distinction. This meant putting up two buildings a three-minute walk uphill from the cottage.
They had to be of the hillside, not simply on it. Pennell House contains the lounge, bar and an L-shaped dining room whose windows offer scenic panoramas. Guest rooms are upstairs.
Handlon House consists exclusively of guest rooms.
To furnish the inn, the Fishers turned to Michael Paterson, owner of a highly regarded woodworking business at Upper Amherst Cove, 15 miles from Port Rexton.
Furniture is of traditional outport design and materials, sometimes adapted to modern requirements. Still, furniture and buildings complement each other pleasingly.
Bedrooms and lounges display works by Newfoundland artists; pictures are for sale, but no price tags are stuck to the frames. If you are thinking of buying, you must ask. That’s the way the Fishers want it.
John and Peggy Fisher are hands-on owners, but for staffing the inn, they knew local people were their best bet. So much so that John claims, “Buildings are context; staff is essence.”
A bonus occurred shortly after the inn opened when a production crew and cast arrived at Trinity Bight to film E. Annie Proulx’s novel The Shipping News.
Throughout the shoot, Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench and director Lasse Hallstrom stayed at Fishers’ Loft.
Although the stars came to work, most guests are on holiday. They want to sample amenities of the 12 communities of Trinity Bight. Best known is Trinity, a village of historic interest, which has a professional summer theatre. Boats take visitors on whale-watching and iceberg-sighting trips in season. About an hour away is Terra Nova National Park.
A 40-minute drive from Port Rexton is the town of Bonavista, whose attractions include the Ryan Premises, preserved waterfront buildings that depict the importance of the cod fishery in days past.
In the vicinity of the inn are several hiking trails on abandoned railway beds, across meadows, around ponds, and along beaches. A clue that the Fishers encourage guests to get out and enjoy the countryside on foot can be seen in the stout hiking sticks that stand in each bedroom.
Nearby Skerwink trail was named by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of Canada’s top three trails in 2003.
The Fishers’ amiable three-legged mutt Heike likes to escort guests on their walks.