Our Story

The Beginning
In 1996, a man named Basil Oickle had a dream… and a horse carriage. He envisioned the clip clop of horse hooves, and being able to share the beautiful town of Lunenburg with visitors and locals alike. There was just one problem: he had no horse. Undeterred, Basil reached out to Gregg and Jennie Ernst, who owned the French-Canadian / Percheron workhorse, Cindy. They weren’t willing to sell Cindy, but they were willing to lease her. So, with Cindy leading the way, Basil began offering enchanting horse and buggy tours, sharing the rich history and charm of Lunenburg with visitors from near and far. 

Basil ran Trot in Time for 25 years, proudly sharing Lunenburg with thousands of visitors, and building a team of drivers and horses who worked alongside him. 

A New Chapter
Fast forward to 2022, when John Vanderbrugge and Donna Williams acquired Trot in Time Carriage Tours. They had their daughter, Shay, in mind when making the purchase. Shay had gained valuable experience working with horse and buggy tours in Niagara on the Lake, and her parents saw an opportunity to continue this in Lunenburg. However, when Shay decided to pursue other endeavors, John and Donna made the difficult decision to step back from the business in the autumn of 2023.

Coming Full Circle
In 2024, the story of Trot in Time Carriage Tours has come full circle. Mary Gilson, the daughter of Gregg and Jennie Ernst—the original owners of Cindy— heard of the decision to shut Trot in Time, and took action. 

Mary, together with her family, grew up with the horse and buggy tours starting right in her backyard. As descendants of the original German settlers, they have a deep connection to the tradition and the community. Mary took the reins, bringing new life to Trot in Time Carriage Tours. This new beginning also marked the start of rejuvenation of the old family farm. With a passion for both the business and the land, Mary and her family are dedicated to preserving the heritage and charm of Lunenburg while creating unforgettable experiences for all who visit.

Our Farm

Nestled just outside of Lunenburg, on First Peninsula, sits the Ernst Family Farm, a 240 acre gem, rich in history and memories. Passed down through generations, it’s been a labor of love for our family for over a hundred years.

Times change, though. Farming itself ceased to be a viable way of running the property over 25 years ago, and the property shows signs of this. It will need a lot work, time, effort, and money to thrive the way it did in our great-grandfather’s day. 

As a team of 10 siblings, we wanted to work together to give the family farm a new lease on life. So, we decided to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

We saw an opportunity with Trot in Time Carriage Tours, a local gem with a lot of history, and a lot of personal meaning. The business has operated since 1996, and was originally founded with one of our horses, from our family farm by our good friend, Basil Oickle.

Our goal? To make our family farm a place where folks can come and feel at home, while also giving them a taste of not just Lunenburg’s history, but ours too.

So, as we set out on this journey, we’re not just preserving the old ways; we’re breathing new life into them. And with a lot of hard work and a little luck, we’re excited to see where this road takes us.