There’s a place on the shores of Lake Simcoe that offers you the chance to slow the world down and relax, and where visitors and the proprietors have lived, worked and played for 175 years. What began as a simple farm has evolved into one of Ontario’s prominent resort destinations.
In 1840, a land grant at Jackson’s Point was given to British Navy Captain William Bourchier. He built a manor house overlooking the lake and named it “The Briars” after a home of the same name owned by friends in St. Helena. In 1878, Bourchier’s widow sold the property to Dr. Frank Sibbald. The resort remains in the Sibbald family name to this day. Certain “trademarks” of the property are attributed to Dr. Sibbald, such as the peacock house (a small octagonal building with windows on every side), and the cedar hedges along Hedge Road. When cottaging started to become popular, a golf course was built and in 1922 The Briars Inn & Country Club was born.
The Manor House underwent major renovations in the 1970’s in order to accommodate guest rooms, a games room and dining rooms for the resort’s ever-growing guest list. An outdoor swimming pool and several meeting rooms were also added. With the resort’s popularity growing still, an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and pub were added as well as larger meeting and conference rooms. Of course, every resort these days must have a spa, and the Briars Spa was opened to pamper and indulge visitors in 2000. There are a variety of services and packages available to relax your body and invigorate your mind. Get a mani and pedi before sitting by the water or have a tranquil massage and make the most of your day just enjoying the scenery.
Throughout the resort, guests will notice antiques from five generations of the Sibbald family. If you are looking for a truly luxurious stay, book the Governor Simcoe Suite and enjoy its two guest rooms, whirlpool baths and living room. Alternatively, there are cottages along the privately owned lakeshore and bordering the golf course which have from one to ten bedrooms.
Meals can be enjoyed indoors or out – in the Garden Court, Coach House or Manor House – but no matter where you sit to dine, you’ll be able to enjoy the bounty of fresh local produce from on-site vegetable gardens and regional ingredients. Don’t leave without enjoying at least one dish of beef, roast Ontario pork tenderloin, and house made desserts. On Saturday evenings, the dining room hosts a traditional dinner-dance. The resort hosts its Thanksgiving Weekend celebration this year from October 9 – 15, during its 175th anniversary. The menu promises to be a delicious feast with parsnip and sweet potato soup with cider crème fraiche; roast Ontario turkey with savoury dressing and gravy, herb mash, vegetables and homemade cranberry sauce; and pumpkin pie with Bourbon cream and maple pecans.
There’s plenty to do nearby. Sibbald Point Provincial Park is a 5 minute drive away, as is The Georgina Arts Centre and St. George’s Church and Historical Cemetery, originally built in 1839 and rebuilt in 1877.
Get active with a yoga class, soothe yourself in the spa, or enjoy the outdoors during a bicycle ride. Then curl up by the fire with a glass of mulled wine. With a bit of local history, delicious local food, and the seasonal change of the leaves to their vibrant golds and reds, it’s an ideal fall getaway.
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
By Becky Dumais