“Honey I’ve just booked a romantic getaway as a Valentine’s treat”. I felt a warm glow of anticipation. What delicious plans did she have in mind? Where was this special cupid’s corner and how did she know about it – a previous liaison maybe? No, two girlfriends had taken their partners for a weekend of fun and frolic and positively raved about the place. “It’s in Ladner”.

I tried to look enthusiastic. I mentally searched for any hostelry more romantic than a Motel 6 in that pocket of suburbia – none sprang to mind. Ladner began as a fishing village and achieved brief notoriety when Chung Chuk, a local potato farmer, ran off a bunch of revenuers with a fully loaded shotgun in August 1977. Folkore, but not the stuff of Eden, I thought as an ignorant Kits dweller.

We sped through the George Massey Tunnel and took the River Road turnoff through Ladner’s pretty town center. We passed the condominiums which now cover Chung Chuk’s farm. They overlook the slough which bears his name. A few picturebook clapboard houses still remain between the modern suburban homes. We almost missed the little sign among masts of moored fishing boats, float homes, tiny bow-roofed cottages and light industrial sites. “That’s it, there it is” she said excitedly. We parked on top of the dyke outside two immaculate low set bungalows with brimming window boxes.

Feeling like naughty teenagers, we picked up the key and followed the sign to Keepers Cottage. The names on the door – discreet first names that is - announced that this was our home – until noon tomorrow, anyway. A teddy bear sat nestled between the pillows. Two chocolate hearts lay above.

The décor was simple summer cottage, but it was the attention to detail that brought the delighted “oohs” and “ahs” of discovery. A carafe of sherry and two glasses on the table. Enough wood to keep the fireplace blazing for a long evening. Two pieces of delicious coffee cake and a variety of teas for early arrivals. Fresh flowers, snacks, an appropriate library of books,  Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, Lady Chatterly’s lover etc. etc. and even a selection of CD’s for the boom box. Thankfully, TV was optional.

The bathroom brought the loudest accolades. “ Wow, come and look at this” Candles and mirrors around the double Jacuzzi. Two snow white terry toweling robes behind the door. A hair drier thoughtfully placed in the basket of essences and shampoos. A mountain of thick cotton towels.

We completed the form with our breakfast preferences and delivered it to the office. What would we like? Almost anything was possible. Where would we like it? In bed, at the table or on our own private deck where we could feed the ducks from the container of bird seed. Ah! decisions, decisions.

River Run began as a project of Bill and Jan Hartley in 1993. They transformed two dilapidated buildings into  three love-nests that literally hang over the Fraser River. They added a perfect little house boat named simply, Waterlily, with a finely crafted interior reminiscent of an ancient sailing ship. Each has its own special character. Their mission was to think of every detail that would make a guest feel cosseted right down to kayaks and bicycles. The new owners Will and Barb Watkins have preserved the integrity of the place, maintaining Paddy to prepare delicious breakfast treats delivered with a newspaper, a fresh smile, a warm Irish lilt, and sealed lips!

This romantic little spot is just a half hour from the center of Vancouver. No ferries. No hassle. Close enough  for a bit of self indulgence without abdicating the responsibilities of home. Make the reservation. Pack a toothbrush. Take a steak, there’s a BBQ on every deck. Expect to be pampered. You deserve it. Ah! Memories, sweet memories.



Address: 4551 River Road West, Ladner
Phone: (604) 946 7778 Fax: (604) 940 1970.
Tariff: From $150 all inclusive ( less for longer stays). Check in: 4pm- Check out noon.

Warning: A “Four Lip” designation in “Best places to kiss in The Northwest ”!!


Copyright © 2001 Andrew G.P. Renton All rights reserved.