Visiting McFarland House & Tea Room, Niagara-On-The-Lake
A few weeks ago, after our visit to the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, we had the pleasure of visiting McFarland House and Tea Room, a historic gem located in the gorgeous town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
As a lover of tea, I was excited to check out their beautiful tea service and to learn more about the Georgian style home, built in 1800 by John McFarland and his family.
We began our visit in the gorgeous, greenhouse style tea room, featuring floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular view of the park. We happened to visit on a rather rainy day, but even in the less-than-perfect weather, it was a lovely spot to sit.
We ordered the McFarland’s Famous Afternoon Tea (featuring finger sandwiches, homemade sweets, and some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted!) which my daughter, gramma, and I all enjoyed immensely. The food was fresh, delicious, and filling! We actually took a little bit home — but I won’t lie, I ate my last treat on the car ride home!
Such a lovely display!
For our tea choice, my daughter and I enjoyed the Cream Earl Grey — from their selection of nearly 40 varieties — while my gramma chose the McFarland House Mint, which is harvested just outside the entrance to the home. You can smell the mint as soon as you’re near!
My daughter had never seen sugar cubes before and was eager to add them to her mama’s cup!
After our tea, my daughter and I made our way back toward the entrance to begin our tour of the historical home.
McFarland House, built in 1800 by John McFarland and his family, was actually used as a hospital and headquarters to both British and American forces during the War of 1812, and is the oldest home owned by Niagara Parks. It’s also one of the only buildings in Niagara-on-the-Lake to survive the war.
Our guide was the museum’s curator who was incredibly knowledgeable about not only the home, but of the area’s history and the time periods that the house saw. During the tour I definitely had an “if walls could talk” thought floating through my head. The home even manage to survived the burning of Newark (what we now call Niagara-on-the-Lake), a tragedy which occurred in 1813 as the American forces retreated. This home saw some incredible things and it’s really a wonder that it’s still standing at all — and thankfully so!
The bricks used to build the home were actually made in kilns right on the properly. The back wing of the home, which has been renovated since, was added in 1875 to accommodate a new kitchen– as opposed to having their kitchen in an outbuilding — as well as additional living space and servants’ quarters.
Walking through the home was like hopping into a time machine — so many original pieces from the home and from the time period are showcased in the museum, including books, furniture, newspapers, ledgers, dishes, children’s toys, weapons, and more.
One of my favourite pieces in the museum was actually a bed in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
The ropes which would have originally held the mattress in place are thought to have played a part in the etymology of the phrase “sleep tight”. Those ropes would have to be pulled tight to provide support. I love little titbits like this.
John McFarland, a Master Shipwright and project manager with the British Navy, had nine children — four with his first wife, and five with the second. Our guide also explained and pointed out all of the hints which prove to us that the McFarland family must have been rather wealthy for their time. The height of the ceilings on both floors, a lock on the front door, and the number of bedrooms all point toward a family who spared no expense. I was intrigued to find out that addition of closets in the master bedroom was a indication of wealth, as closets were actually considered extra rooms, and so the home would have paid higher taxes.
After touring the home, we explored the property a little — Gretchen loves swings so she was more than happy to swing away, despite the rain.
The property also features beautifully maintained gardens — this one is just across from where the tasty mint was growing!
As soon as we left McFarland House and Tea Room I was already mentally planning a second trip there for myself and my partner. The tea service was beautifully done and I can’t wait to come back.
If you’re planning a trip to the Niagara region in the future, I would highly recommend planning a visit. Call ahead to book a reservation for the tea room — times and dates change seasonally, with special holiday programming throughout the winter months.
December 6th to 8th: A McFarland Christmas
Enjoy a lush Victorian Christmas with period decorations at the historic McFarland House in partnership with the Garden Club of Niagara and the Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
December 14th & 15th: McFarland House, December 1813
Reservations are a must for this afternoon tea combined with the dramatic events of December 1813, marking the 200th anniversary of McFarland’s role in the War of 1812.
Be sure to enjoy your tour and ask lots of questions of the knowledgeable staff. They really seemed to love the building and were a pleasure to meet!
- $5.00 for adults
- $3.75 for children ages 6-12
- Children under the age of 5 are FREE at all Niagara Parks attractions
- Parking is also free at McFarland House
Want to explore more historical sites in the area? You can actually purchase a Niagara Heritage Trail Pass for just $20.12 (savings of over 35%) which gives you access to Old Fort Erie, McFarland House, Mackenzie Printery, and the Laura Secord Homestead.
PS. You can also read about our visit to the Butterfly Conservatory — another wonderful attraction in the area!
Disclosure: I was invited to visit McFarland House and Tea Room by the Niagara Parks Comission. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.