History of Georgina
The First Nations people are known to have inhabited Georgina for thousands of years. The Algonkian people have been living here since 1000 A.D. Their descendents now populate the reserve on Georgina Island, and are known as the “Chippewas of Georgina Island”.
Georgina was named in honour of George III, by the first Lieutenant- Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. United Empire Loyalist began to settle here in the early 1800s. Two of Georgina’s most prominent early settlers were retired naval officer Captain William Bourchier, who founded the Town of Sutton, and retired army officer Captain William Johnson, who founded the Village of Pefferlaw.
In the 1830s, several prominent families from England established country estates on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The most prominent of these new arrivals were the family of Susan Sibbald. The Sibbald’s first home, ‘Eildon Hall’ is located in Sibbald Provincial Park. Eildon Hall is now a museum and is open to the public.
In the 1840s, William Bourchier built a magnificent Regency Manor overlooking Lake Simcoe. He named this property ‘The Briars’, after a friends residence in St. Helena. The Briars was purchased in 1870, by Susan Sibbald’s son, Dr. Frank Sibbald. Frank Sibbald soon established a prized dairy farm on his estate. The Briars barn which at one time housed championship shorthorns, is now the home of the Red Barn Theatre – Canada’s oldest summer theatre.
In 1942, Jack Sibbald (Frank Sibbald’s nephew), transformed The Briars from an award winning farm into The Briars Inn and Country Club. The Sibbald family continue to own and operate The Briars to this day, providing some continuity in a community that has undergone tremendous growth in recent years.