I've always been fascinated with the history of The Briars. On every visit to this Lake Simcoe resort that we have made through the years, I have always taken a keen interest in the old York County maps hanging in the resort's lower floor, but news of their new history room is particularly exciting.[caption id="attachment_191" align="aligncenter" caption="Ontario’s only peacock house (red brick) is found at The Briars Resort."][/caption]
This treasure trove of perfectly preserved historical artefacts was recently discovered entirely by chance. The Briars’ archivist Diana Rowney guides popular historic tours of the resort and on a recent tour, she discovered a locked room. Out of interest she asked John Sibbald, owner of The Briars to open it. There, in perfect condition and stacked from floor to ceiling were boxes of long forgotten heirlooms and artefacts from the Sibbald family. They included documents that date back to the birth of Canada, including written statutes of Upper Canada dating from the 1830-40s. A prized family bible long thought lost was also found and perhaps, the most significant find were the journals of William Sibbald dating back to the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion and his involvement in the famous revolt.[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" caption="The Briars Resort is a popular Ontario wedding and honeymoon destination."][/caption]
The collection also includes diaries from Dr. Frank Sibbald dating back to 1875. There's a history of the purchase of The Briars property by the Sibbald family in 1878. Also found were prize ribbons and glass milk bottles from The Briars Dairy which operated from 1922 to 1989 and old china and antique family photographs in near perfectly preserved photo albums.[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" caption="Enjoying the Lake Simcoe view from the deck of one of the cottages at The Briars."][/caption]
In September, The Briars will unveil its history room at an invitation-only luncheon, but for history buffs seeking an interesting Ontario fall getaway, The Briars history tours will give you a glimpse of this treasure trove too.