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Historic rural home was made from plans from Eaton’s catalogue

Every stick of furniture in this house has a story. And so does every piece of china, every wall hanging, every room and every person who will exit the over-90-year-old door at Boxton Prairie Experience.

Take for example, the harness room. This superbly decorated space, with heated floor and luxury Jacuzzi shower, is dedicated to a Grenfell, Sask. bachelor who refused to pay his school taxes. A load of grain would usually be confiscated from his property each year in lieu of the taxes, until eventually the NWMP decided to take his horses instead. A scuffle ensued and the poor bachelor lost his life.

“Anybody who ends up getting shot for not paying his school taxes gets a room,” says Ruth Claxton, designer of the bed and breakfast room and owner of the Boxton Prairie Experience.

The heart of this luxury inn near Grenfell, is a 1919 Eaton’s house, the only one of its kind still standing anywhere in Canada. This particular plan, ordered from the pages of the Eaton’s catalogue, was only available for a few years as its size, amenities and cost quickly put it out of vogue.

Ruth Claxton and Lloyd Box had always admired the historical significance and architectural details of the massive home built by Lloyd’s great-grandfather 92 years ago. However, it wasn’t until Lloyd’s brother decided to vacate the home in 2004 that the couple made their dream of turning the Eaton’s catalogue home into a rural bed and breakfast a reality.

The three-storey, six-bedroom house has been renovated from top to bottom with careful attention given to preserving the character, charm and original finishings of the historical structure.

A deep ridge in the parlour floor remains as a memory of when Lloyd’s grandparents moved their massive piano to clean it, leaving the traces for generations to come.

“When people come here, they can’t wait for the tour,” said Ruth, explaining that every room in the house has a theme based on a real character from Grenfell’s past. “They love it because they start to reminisce about their childhoods, or grandparents, and it brings back so many good memories for them.”

The stories are endless, with the artifacts that are part of the inn providing hours of entertainment all on their own. There’s the set of china that belonged to Ruth’s mother, then there’s the woven carpets that were in her grandparents’ house, not to mention the petit point and cross-stitch pictures that adorn most of the walls. These amazing works of art, some of which took hundreds of hours to complete, are done by a Grenfell resident who insists on remaining anonymous. Ruth goes to the lady’s basement each season and chooses from a room full of works, selecting the ones that are in keeping with the time of year and with the rooms in this historic Prairie home.

Ruth and Lloyd also serve up gourmet meals, using Claxton’s mother’s china and glassware that dates back to the turn of the century. Seated at the massive dining room table adorned by numerous large candlesticks, one could feel quite regal, especially if retiring later to the royalty-themed British Empire Room.

To enjoy a night at this spectacular rural B & B, or to book a gourmet meal for a group of friends, visit www.boxtonprairieexperience.com.

About the author

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Christalee Froese writes from Montmartre, Sask.

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