WINCHESTER — From out of flames, Annette Angus forged a premier North Dundas destination.
“It started out as a little hobby. Now it’s a good business,” says a smiling Angus, wearing her signature broad-brimmed hat at Sunday’s 10th anniversary celebration for Terrace Green Bed & Breakfast, an event drawing dozens of well-wishers.
Before it became a stately B&B, the rural property on County Rd. 43 was better known as an empty place that had seen better days. Just over a decade ago, the old farmhouse and its nearby barn both stood vacant — long past the time when the Carkner family operated a small tractor dealership at the farmstead.
Angus and her husband, Jim, bought the site as an investment property, she says. They were just about to rent out the barn for a horse-stabling operation when the structure burned down — first victim of a serial barn arsonist then presumed to be at work in the area. “Six days later, they burnt the house, too,” recalls the former Seaway District High School special education teacher.
That left the Anguses, living in South Mountain at the time, with a new replacement home going up just outside Winchester and a bit of a quandary on what direction to take with it. (The barn wasn’t replaced.) “Shirley Fawcett said it would be a good bed and breakfast,” she recalls, adding, “I said, ‘OK.’”
The way Angus tells it, their building contractor, Leo Tessier, spontaneously began to put up dividing walls in the basement, sensing the couple might choose to live down there while accommodating guests in the main part of the house. They didn’t stop him.
Thus momentum built for the “little hobby” that now sees the proprietors routinely rent out all five rooms at Terrace Green. In addition, Annette Angus coordinates stays by overflow guests at two nearby apartments and 11 other rooms at homes owned by friends in North Dundas. Terrace Green B&B — listed on bebe.com, booking.com and expedia.ca — has hosted all sorts of special events, luncheons, weddings and parties at the sparkling white home with impressive wraparound veranda. “We never expected to be this big or successful.”
She attributes that success to a reputation as “good corporate citizens” who support charitable causes and offer free giveaways. “We’ve given hundreds of rooms away. That has been our best marketing.”
Not averse to cross-promotion, Angus founded Destination North Dundas and has more recently affiliated the business with the Eastern Ontario Garlic Festival.
The venue previously hosted three annual gospel concerts, all well received, and the owner says she’d like to put on shows again, but on a monthly basis, starting next year. “I think I could pull in a variety of acts.”
In retrospect, she notes that her parents’ Brinston home, where she grew up, “was a hub of constant activity” and visitors — a precursor, perhaps, to the life she and her husband now enjoy at Terrace Green.