618 Burr Rd., Prince Edward County, Ont.
Asking Price: $1,470,000
Taxes: $3,433.57 (2020)
Lot Size: 32 acres
Listing Agents: Rob Plomer and Kate Vader, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
Cynthia Peters estimates she’s had a couple thousand people in the kitchen of her Prince Edward County farmhouse over the last 11 years, and those are just the people who paid her for the privilege.
Every year since 2010 from May to November Ms. Peters has run From The Farm, a mix of cooking class and culinary tourism. “For the half-day class I would have a topic such as Tuscan farmhouse cooking, they’d come in the morning, we’d cook and have lunch together,” she said. “The other version is a full-day culinary tour, we’d go off to the farm to pick or purchase the ingredients for class, come back and we’d be in my chef’s kitchen. We’d have dinner and then a wine tour. They get the inside food and wine stories of the region and get to understand all the best places to go … they really appreciate the information.”
She used to run a personal chef business in Toronto but in 2004 visited The County, as it’s known, and fell in love with the place. “A couple of people we knew had moved there. We saw the growing wine industry, a couple of chefs had come, and it was all about getting people together for communal food. Farm to table was new way back then; now it’s mainstream.”
Even though COVID-19 has put a crimp on in-person classes, Ms. Peters is selling the farmhouse, not the business: she intends to set up shop again at another location in The County.
Over the years Ms. Peters has made some updates that supported the at-home business, but also a good deal of creature comforts any house hunter could appreciate. “It was already updated with the boring things like plumbing, but we updated and modernized it while trying to keep the authenticity; the house still had so much original crown moulding and wainscoting. We put in the circular drive, the stonewall fencing … each year there was a project.” Ms. Peters said the style she is aiming for was English countryside rather than modern farmhouse.
The house today
The layout is what you might call rambling farmhouse: There are four sections that were completed in different eras. The house is anchored by a central two-storey structure of red brick, which is actually the first big addition completed by the settler family that acquired that land in the early 1800s. “Because they were wealthy hops farmers it’s a triple brick construction and ceilings are quite high,” Ms. Peters said. The porch that wraps around the front, connecting the mudroom and the sunroom additions that jut off the sides of the main house, was added by Ms. Peters.
Through the front door is a foyer with a stairwell leading up to the sleeping quarters, and a hallway runs straight back past the kitchen to the family room. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms; the primary suite has a two-piece ensuite bath but there is a shared bathroom that’s been completely updated with white marble and tile and has a glass-walled steam shower and separate soaker tub.
Downstairs, on the left of the foyer is a formal sitting room jammed with comfy chairs a grand piano and anchored by a huge brick fireplace flanked by built in storage and shelves. Just off of this is what they call the mudroom, a 24-foot-long space added in the 1920s that contains the laundry. Facing the road is a wall of windows and a bench that runs the length of the room. One can easily imagine using this space to stage a canning assembly line or folding every stitch of laundry in the house.
Just behind this space is a sunroom; a three-season space with vaulted ceiling filled with reclaimed barn board Ms. Peters added and has made good use of for her culinary students.
Back through the foyer, the other half of this main floor is your classic farmhouse dining room: clay-coloured walls, floral drapes, an ornate chandelier and three hutches around an antique dinner table. There’s another brick hearth fireplace, and a door on the right that leads into a tiled breakfast room added by Ms. Peters that offers a corner counter space for more prep and more dine-in space. There’s also a hulking wood-burning oven more than capable of doing a whole prime rib or a massive turkey. “We use it mostly for pizza parties,” Ms. Peters said.
The floors in this main house are the original wide-plank hemlock, which is a medium-yellow colour that’s lighter than the mainly oak furnishings. That hardwood continues into the galley kitchen updated with custom cabinets, rustic backsplash, a huge gas range with double oven (below a custom-made reclaimed barnboard vent hood) and an under-counter fridge.
Just behind the kitchen are quarters that was the very first farmhouse, but now has been converted into a large family room and media space (one wall-mounted flatscreen TV and one ceiling-mounted projector for movie night). “That area had been a rental, the bookcase was a kitchenette. But we took back all that space,” Ms. Peters said. There is still a four-piece bathroom with tub-shower is just off this living space, which opens the possibility of turning this wing back into an over-sized in-law suite. The floor here is tile that looks like reclaimed wood, and it runs straight through to the back room which is set up as a huge home office (and wine storage space, made out of reclaimed hemlock floorboards) with a connecting door to the heated woodshop off the back.
There’s also 32 acres of land, which aside from a bunch of raised garden beds, has lain fallow most of the time Ms. Peters has owned the place.
“I sit at that marble top table a lot in our breakfast room, it’s a beautiful bright room all day, if I’m doing work, that’s my preferred spot that I love to sit,” Ms. Peters said. “In warmer weather warmer I love the screened in porch or out on the deck in the summer time.”
Relocating within The County for a new challenge is exciting, but not without its bittersweet elements.
“Our friends are all missing it already. I’ve already had so many e-mails it’s unbelievable. There’s so many good memories: dinner parties and cooking classes and celebrations. I know whoever lives in this home will love it, and I’m happy to pass on the baton,” she said.
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