Posts Tagged ‘History Room’

horse-drawn sleigh rides at Pine Vista Resort

Old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rides at Pine Vista Resort

Last week, we blogged about the Idlewlyd Inn’s Dickens Dinner, Bayview Wildwood’s family Christmas plans, a Pillar and Post’s icewine lovers’ getaway and a Shamrock Lodge snowmobile package that’s close to OFSC trails.  This week’s post brings you holiday news from five more Resorts of Ontario: Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, the Little Inn of Bayfield on Lake Huron, Pine Vista Resort in the Kawarthas, The Briars on Lake Simcoe, and the Millcroft Inn in Caledon Hills.

water slide at Great Wolf Lodge

Santa and his elves on the water slide at Great Wolf Lodge

Holiday time in Niagara Falls is the season to combine waterslides and Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights. From December 1-24 Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor waterpark resort, has tons of family things to do. There’s a gingerbread house so big you can eat in it. Santa pays a visit on December 5th. Family scavenger hunts and family dances will be held on Saturdays up to December 18th and Winter Friends Story Time is on every night at 8pm. Best of all, a one night stay gets you two days of water park play. Combine all of this with a visit to Niagara Falls’  Winter Festival of Lights and you’ve got yourself a great Niagara getaway. Great Wolf’ Lodge has a Winter Wonderland overnight that includes lunch in the Antler Shanty, one colour-you-own-craft for each child, 20 arcade tokens for each child and a 6X8 Thrill Pix photo and frame. Log on to the  Great Wolf Lodge website for rates and availability or call 1-888-878-1818.

ice hockey at Pine Vista Resort

A pickup game of hockey at Pine Vista

How about a bit of stargazing with your family in a big outdoor hot tub? You’ll find one at Pine Vista Resort. It’s on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, 90 minutes northeast of Toronto. Each of Pine Vista’s cottages and townhouses come with a fully equipped kitchen so you can cook your own Christmas turkey. They also  have jacuzzi tubs, TVs, DVD players, woodburning fireplaces and decks with BBQs. Over Christmas, a mini winter carnival is planned with face painting, movie nights, outdoor games, maple toffee-making, campfire, and crafts. There will be horse-drawn sleigh rides too, along with skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and  tobogganing. An indoor hot tub and games room are available and if a spa treatment sounds good, the resort can arrange that too. Affordable three-night Country Christmases are priced at $610 for a family of four or $505 a couple. To book, click here or call 1-800-634-2848.

Dancing Santa at The Briars Resort

Dancing Santa at The Briars

We visited The Briars earlier this year and blogged about its fascinating new history room. The resort is in Jackson’s Point,  Ontario’s first cottage country, an hour north of  Toronto. People used to travel to this little Lake Simcoe community from Toronto by radial railway (somehow that sounds incredibly civilized!). Two and three-night Christmas packages are available.  If you’re a crowd,  look into their lakeside family lodges. They sleep up to twelve comfortably. Highlights of a Briars holiday itinerary include a mulled cider welcome, an Irish Coffee party, a champagne breakfast followed by guided country walks or horse-drawn sleigh ride. They’ve even got a treat-making workshop for winter birdwatchers. On Christmas Eve, a festive buffet dinner with  live entertainment and a visit from Santa is planned. Christmas Day includes the resort’s annual snow golf tournament followed by a punch party and a Christmas feast with all the trimmings. There’s also an afternoon at the movies, and to work off all the food and drink, a fitness centre with indoor pool, sauna and  hot tub. Yoga lovers, don’t forget your mats!  There are yoga classes here too, along with a wonderful spa. To book, call 1-800-465-2376 or book online

Two more inns sent us their Christmas menus this week. Both have loyal food-loving fans:

The Little Inn of Bayfield, 45 minutes west of Stratford on Lake Huron, is Ontario’s oldest hostelry. In the 1830s it operated as a stagecoach stop. Today it caters to those with a nose for fine food and wine. Cooking class weekends and winemaker’s dinners are held every month. Positive reviews have come from a long line of respected Canadian and US food writers. Every year, the Little Inn posts its Christmas menus on its website. A quick peek by yours truly made my mouth water. All  Christmas meals will be paired with outstanding Ontario VQA wines and depending on the meal, meal prices range between $45 and $100 per person. If you and your significant other or the family want to make an overnight of it, check the Little Inn’s selection of one to four-night Christmas packages.

plate of gourmet food from Little Inn of Bayfield

Food-lovers can expect great fare at the Little Inn of Bayfield

In early September, I blogged about my visit to the Millcroft Inn & Spa with a Canwest food writer. Roberto Fracchioni is the well-loved chef here. He hosts monthly cooking sessions that always draw a crowd. This holiday season Chef Fracchioni has planned a  Christmas Day Dinner menu as well as two Christmas menus suitable for larger family gatherings.  Lots of house delicacies are on all three menus. Dinners run between $56 and $65 per person. Chef  Fracchioni and Pastry Chef Enrico Schulze will also create a customized menu experience if you want your own holiday event. Now, that would be a treatl!  The Millcroft has a spa that is one of the largest in Ontario. Its spa menu for men has received a lot of attention. A Winter Bliss getaway ties this inn’s spa and culinary together nicely. It includes a three-course dinner for two, breakfasts, a $100 spa credit, and an ovennight at the inn. Priced per person from $282, double occupancy, Sunday through Thursdays. On Saturdays, the price is slightly higher at $295 pp/do. To view this and more Millcroft getaways, click here.

More new package deals are included in a monthly Resorts of Ontario newsletter. To sign up, click here.

Next week, we’ve got  New Year’s Eve ideas  from Resorts of Ontario, so stay tuned.

Read Full Post »

The Briars’ archivist Diana Rowney in action

The Briars’ archivist Diana Rowney in action

The prospect of a “History Tour” at The Briars did not immediately fill me with anticipation. I was more interested in clambering around the rocky shores of Lake Simcoe taking pictures with the Nikon, or hanging out in the dining room with Carlos and Hylton, listening to their stories about “back home” in Jamaica.

Service at The Briars is excellent and very friendly

Service at The Briars is excellent and very friendly

Diana Rowney

Diana Rowney

Don’t get me wrong, I like history, but there’s lots more to do here. Anyway… my mood improved when we rendezvoused with a gaggle of nurses in the foyer to start the tour. Then my mood improved considerably more when we were introduced to our tour guide, the incredibly engaging archivist Diana Rowney. She’s got a way about her that makes the stories come alive. And there are many stories too. Not just dusty, old grade school stuff. No sir. These stories are bawdy and raucous, as, I think, all good history should be. Here’s a link to some of the stories from the Briars’ history to whet your appetite.

It was all very civilized. After the tour we retired to the main veranda where the proprietor, Mrs. Sibbald, served us sherry. The conversation drifted between the modern resort industry in Ontario and the state of the nursing profession in that province.

Mrs. Sibbald entertaining guests on the veranda at The Briars

Mrs. Sibbald entertaining guests on the veranda at The Briars

The resort is in Jackson’s Point on Lake Simcoe. It has been here for over 165 years. If the traffic is not bad, it’s about an hour north of Toronto.

Main entrance to The Briars Resort, Spa and Conference Centre

Main entrance to The Briars Resort, Spa and Conference Centre

The accommodation is very comfortable and the service is fantastic.

The hallway just outside of our room at The Briars

The hallway just outside of our room at The Briars

Lake Simcoe shoreline

Lake Simcoe shoreline

Read Full Post »

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.

Ontario’s only peacock house (red brick) is found at The Briars Resort.

Ontario’s only peacock house (red brick) is found at The Briars Resort.

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.

The Briars Resort is a popular Ontario wedding and honeymoon destination.

The Briars Resort is a popular Ontario wedding and honeymoon destination.

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.

Enjoying the Lake Simcoe view from the deck of one of the cottages at The Briars.

Enjoying the Lake Simcoe view from the deck of one of the cottages at The Briars.

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.

Read Full Post »