Photographs by: Alexander J. Rothe
Husband and wife team David and Esther Little have worked together on several business and personal projects in various parts of the world. After discovering and falling in love with Prince Edward County they decided to embark on a new venture that draws on all the skills they have accumulated in their long and varied careers. They are the new owners of Wellington Willows Boutique Bed & Breakfast.
Not Your Traditional Bed & Breakfast
We fell in love with this absolutely charming farmhouse on Main Street in Wellington. Dating back to around 1868, it is one of the earliest properties in the village. It has so much character – tin ceilings, secret staircases, quirky nooks and crannies – it’s beautiful. When we embarked on renovating the property we wanted to make it even more special, while respecting the grand old building.
We took over an established B&B but wanted to add our own twist to our new enterprise, with the goal of “reimagining the B&B experience” for a new generation of travelers. We’ve done a lot of travelling ourselves for work and pleasure, and as frequent travellers we know what we like when we stay at hotels or B&Bs. With this in mind we set out to create a space that’s aesthetically pleasing, we really wanted an environment that was inviting and relaxing. Another thing that’s important to us when we travel is food. Esther loves to bake and she brings her creativity into the kitchen by utilizing the abundance of local produce to prepare the gourmet meals that guests enjoy in the mornings.
Prince Edward County – “The Next Big Thing”
We first heard about The County from a work colleague who was raving about it, saying it was “undoubtedly the next big thing”. He said if we were ever to go for a weekend we should stay at Drake on the Lake (The Drake Devonshire Inn). At pretty much the same time, and quite unrelatedly, another good friend also told us about The County, and how cool it was. We figured if so many folks are talking about this place we should go see what all the fuss was about. So in December 2015 we did just that. We were also looking for a new venture and spent our first few weekends in The County with a real estate agent looking at various properties and business opportunities. That’s when we came across Wellington Willows.
Making the Move
The idea of running an upscale Bed & Breakfast was something we had been thinking about for a while. We looked at various locations in Ontario including Niagara-on-the-Lake, but we kept coming back to Prince Edward County. Many visits from Toronto to PEC later, looking at almost all the real estate inventory on the market at the time, we strangely enough decided that the first property we looked at was “The One” – Wellington Willows Boutique B&B was to be our new venture and the lovely village of Wellington was to be our new home.
We purchased the property in December 2016. Between January and May 2017 we took on the significant task of restoring the 150-year-old farmhouse to its full potential. We weren’t looking at renovating the property to modernize it – but focused more on restoring the building to emphasize its history and charm. It was a ton of hard work – but we did it. While we did the interior design ourselves, we were fortunate enough to have some very highly skilled local contractors and tradesmen working with us on the renovations. We were extremely pleased with the finished product.
Later in 2017, we also built a Coach House at the rear of the property. The Coach House was also an interesting project, as we wanted it to mirror the main house and look as though both buildings were built in the 1860’s. All the contractors we worked with on both projects provided us with the highest levels of quality, craftsmanship and integrity. We were fortunate to have worked with: William Design Company; Terspstra Carpentry Inc.; Brian Kuipers Carpentry, just to name a few.
A New Life in a New Location
What made us decide to settle in The County? We were ready to step away from corporate life – but still wanted to satisfy our entrepreneurial urges, keep ourselves busy and make investments that would provide us with long-term benefits. We wanted to be part of something exciting and on-the-move, something with an energy and a vibe. We love the countryside and the lake, but didn’t want to be a million miles away from the city and all of its conveniences. We wanted to have a lifestyle where we would meet interesting people and enjoy true community spirit (something that is a rarity these days).
Prince Edward County and the village of Wellington checks all of these boxes and has proven to be the ideal landing spot for us. The community has welcomed us with open arms. We’ve made new friends and have been so impressed by the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit that exists here. We have the best neighbours, and the local business community is really inclusive. Wellington is perfectly located. Everything is in walking distance, there are great restaurants, the lake is right there and anything else you need is a short drive away – including the 401 if you want to head into Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal.
So You Want To Move To The County?
There’s no doubt that Prince Edward County is an exciting place to be right now. It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It is charming and picturesque – with friendly people and quiet communities. It is developing quickly and has booming Tourism, Arts and Hospitality industries. It offers so much potential and opportunity, but before you make the leap there are a few things to think about.
Although it’s often described as The Hamptons of Toronto, The next Niagara-on-the-Lake or the future Muskoka, The County is still a work in progress. There are two distinct seasons. The spring and summer are beautiful and it’s easy to find things to do, however the winter is a very quiet time of year with fewer activities. You won’t find all the comforts and convenience of the city when you’re living in the country, but that’s the whole point of making a change. We are definitely glad we made the move to this beautiful part of Ontario.
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.