“Farmhouse chic” is all the rage as a décor trend these days, but it is also how I would describe our stay at Transvaal Farm Guest House in Perth County, about 2 hours outside of Toronto. The perfect balance of authentic farm living with all the upscale comforts of home, a stay here is exactly what is prescribed if you are looking for a country getaway where you can relax and recharge at the same time. And the only thing better than the country air and charming Guest House at Transvaal Farm is the hospitality provided by hosts Cindy Taylor and Scott Mclauchlan.
The Property and Surroundings
Transvaal Farm is the picture of bucolic rural life, from its tidy red barns and outbuildings to the farmhouse itself, with its wraparound veranda shaded by huge trees. It’s Perth County location near the town of St. Mary’s places it in rural Ontario’s heartland and about as far away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto as it gets.
Turning onto the property off a dirt road surrounded by golden fields with grazing sheep, it’s easy to believe that life here has remained essentially the same for the 3 decades – that is, until you check into the Guesthouse, which offers all the modern conveniences and comforts you would want in a weekend getaway.
The Guesthouse at Transvaal
Transvaal’s Guesthouse was actually a large addition to the main farmhouse, back in the day when Cindy’s parents were expanding their farmhouse to accommodate their expanding family. Now that Cindy and Scott have taken over the farm, this space has been converted into a completely independent 2-story guesthouse for visitors. The ground floor consists of a large open concept kitchen/great room that exudes comfort with its leather sofa and oversized chairs, stone fireplace and vintage antiques.
The kitchen has everything you need including full-sized appliances for you to cook meals here if you like, and the fridge is already stocked with free-range eggs from the farm’s chicken coop. (if you need more, you’re welcome to collect some in the morning).
Throughout the guesthouse you’ll notice a farm animal theme, sometimes whimsical, sometimes more traditional, with sheep being a favourite.
The upstairs has two bedrooms and a bath with the kind of characteristic farmhouse details that I love like sloped ceilings, homey wallpaper and four-poster beds layered with plenty of pillows and quilts.
The bathroom vanity is a repurposed antique washstand, and all the lotions and potions provided are handmade from a local producer. There’s even laundry facilities if you really want to stay awhile.
Our Hosts: Scott and Cindy
Transvaal Farm’s owners, Cindy Taylor and Scott McLauchlan, couldn’t be more welcoming, from the thoughtful treats that they leave in the fridge to their invitation to join them for a glass of wine in the gazebo.
Cindy’s family has owned the 50-acre farm for three generations, but until recently, Cindy and Scott were more city mice themselves than country mice, leading very different lives in Toronto. After deciding to exchange their big city jobs and lifestyle for one that is more connected to the land, Scott and Cindy now run Transvaal as a working/hobby farm where they harvest over half of the acreage and grow their own produce on a good-sized garden. It’s definitely a family affair, as Cindy’s brother also manages the on-site artisan cheese-making facility that produces C’est Bon chèvre. And for a former city boy, Scott seems to have adapted well to farm life and is always happy to take visitors on a tour of the farm, introducing them to the chickens and goats or one of the many farm cats who roam the property.
As if running a farm and guesthouse isn’t enough, Cindy has trained to become an accomplished baker and a few years ago she opened a weekend bakery, Kitchen Smidgen, in nearby St. Mary’s (remember those treats I mentioned that were awaiting us in the Guesthouse?….they were amazing!).
Even though running a farm, guesthouse and bakery business means early days and long hours for both Scott and Cindy, they seem to be having fun doing it and their attitude and sense of humour suggest that life on the farm has been a welcome change – just like it is for their guests who come here to relax in their rural oasis. I know for Henk and I, it was a great escape from the asphalt jungle.
TIP: Transvaal Farm is about 2 hours northwest of Toronto, and offers accommodation in its Guesthouse from May through October. Its location near St. Mary’s makes it the perfect home base for a country getaway in Perth County, where there are plenty of small towns and country experiences waiting. Or if you want to lend a hand with the farm chores, I’m sure Scott and Cindy would appreciate the offer!