A Simple Farmhouse

The rustic charm of Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead

Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, PEI offers a welcome place of respite that will feed the soul and fill the belly. The historical property is best known as the homestead of the Macphail family, headed by the illustrious Canadian scholar, Sir Andrew, who purchased it in 1864. The home remained in the Macphail family for nearly 100 years before it was gifted to the Province of PEI for the purpose of remembering and honouring the Macphail family, and specifically Sir Andrew. Today, there is plenty of opportunity to learn, eat, and appreciate the simple beauty of nature.

“I love this place for its’ rustic charm. It never asked to be anything great and in a way it isn’t—it’s a simple place, just an old farm house. But in the same breath it’s so much more. It’s an oasis. It’s a place to learn, to be inspired by what can come from such ordinary and unlikely roots. It’s the reminder that a hard past can be turned into a fueling drive for a bright future,” said Angela Jeffery, the site manager.

Food is a focal point at the Homestead. Large heritage gardens located on the premises are used to demonstrate how vegetables can be grown without pesticides or chemicals. The produce is used in the luncheon menu, for making preserves, and the excess is sold. The Homestead’s focus on farming reflects Sir Andrew’s desire to support Island farmers during his lifetime, which he did primarily through research on how to enhance potato and tobacco crops.

The dining room menu was designed by Chef Joel Short to incorporate fresh garden ingredients. He trained Linda Hunter, the cook at the Homestead. The menu offers potato leek and seasonal pureed vegetable soups along with a variety of sandwiches and salads. A favourite menu item is the salt cod fish cakes, which for many diners evoke memories of their mother’s cooking. Desserts include bread pudding, carrot cake, and a seasonal fruit option. The Homestead is shellfish-free and offers gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Jeffrey and the staff at the Homestead also offer interpretive tours of the Macphail’s family home, host lectures focusing on history and literature, and invite visitors to explore the grounds, which neighbour a stream surrounded by many old trees.

“I have a great sense of his love for this home. It seems to have been a great oasis for him. A dear place. I think he would love that the lights are still on, the doors still open and everything still up-kept,” Jeffery said. “He himself loved to host marvelous parties, and I think it’s an honour to him to keep that spirit alive daily through our tearoom, as well as by the weddings and dinners we accommodate.”

”We’d love for the homestead to have more exposure and many, many more visitors. It’s a great venue to meet for a meal, or to come and learn, and to feel a distance from the bustle of daily responsibilities. It’s a chance to breathe deeply as you step back in time.”

About Ilona Berzins

Writing is a passion for Ilona. Food, especially savouring every morsel is more than a hobby. Being allowed to contribute to Salty enables her to combine two of her loves. An admitted grammar perfectionist she now has to apply all those rules to her own writing. Ilona resides in rural PEI and is currently living overseas on another Island with many trips back home to PEI, when the snow is gone of course.

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