Sunday, October 28, 2018

One spot left for Fall Writing Retreat at the Briars, Nov 2 – 4, Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe {And sign up early for the spring Algonquin retreat}

November at the Briars Writing Retreat
Friday, November 2 – Sunday, November 4, 2018
The Briars Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe
55 Hedge Road, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada (Map here)
Note: We’ll also have a late spring retreat, May 31 – June 3, 2019, in Algonquin Park at Arowhon Pines resort. Sign up early to get the 2018 rates. See here.

Give yourself a weekend of writing time – a weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do, delicious food at every meal, and with the leisure you need to sit with your feet up and write.

The retreat will feature both instruction and guided writing exercises, plus one-on-one critiquing and coaching from Brian.  You’ll also have lots of time to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with your creativity. All writing levels welcome. Whether you’re just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 

The Peacock House
The setting: Originally a Regency-style Manor House built by Captain William Bourchier in 1840, the estate was purchased in 1870 by Dr. Frank Sibbald, who added two wings to the manor house, a coach house, a brick stable and of course a peacock house, because where else are you going to keep your peacocks?

The Briars also has a storied literary history. Humorist Stephen Leacock was a great friend of the Sibbalds, visited often, and is buried just down the road from the resort at the pretty St. George’s churchyard, as is author Mazo de la Roche. De la Roche’s Jalna series were worldwide bestsellers, making her one of Canada’s bestselling authors ever. Indeed, her books are still available from Dundurn Press.

Today, the Briars still offers the warmth of a country estate steeped in history while providing all the benefits of an extensive, modern lakeside resort.

Rates include accommodation. For the retreat, we have our own lodge, the Mayfair, with ten rooms, each entirely private, with a king, a queen, or two twin beds, an en-suite four-piece bathroom, and a desk for writing. The eight downstairs rooms each has a deck. The large, comfortable second-story living room features a wet bar and refrigerator (so do bring your own wine or beer if you like) and coffee service.

All meals – Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday breakfast and lunch – are provided, as are coffee & snack breaks on Saturday. Alcoholic beverages are extra, as are Spa treatments – but you might want to check those out (see here).

All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do. The resort has an indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna, a well-equipped exercise room, and a games room with pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, and foosball. The beautiful Lake Simcoe setting offers idyllic opportunities for biking and hiking, with the resort featuring its own nature trails and with other trails three kilometers down the road at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. And of course there are plenty of nooks around the resort that are ideal for reading, resting and unwinding.

Check-in on Friday is 4 p.m. Our first writing get-together will be at 5 p.m. On Sunday we'll have our last writing get-together at 10 a.m., ending at 11 a.m. Check out is at 12 noon. (though we may push the Sunday schedule an hour later if the resort isn't full and they can accommodate a 1 p.m. check out) But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off! You can stay for the rest of the day, enjoying the amenities of the resort. Participants are welcome to bring a non-participating significant other. 

Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

Fee, including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, and all resort amenities: $345.135 per night plus 13% hst
or $690.27 for the weekend, plus 13% hst
Not included: Tips (probably easiest just to leave $20 – $30 for the wait staff when you check out), alcoholic drinks (or any drinks bought at Drinkwaters Lounge), spa services, or other extras.
Bring a (non-participating) significant other along for the weekend to share your room for an additional $238.94 plus hst for both nights (includes accommodation, meals and all resort amenities, but not the writing part of the retreat).

Book early – space is limited! Full receipts issued.

For more information or to register, email:

Note: Bookings for accommodations for this retreat must be done through Brian (unlike our retreats in Algonquin, where you book your accommodations through the resort).

Who can attend the retreat?
Everyone interested in developing their writing skills is welcome to attend, whether you're aspiring writer or an accomplished author or simply enjoy writing as a hobby. There is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish.

I'm a poet / playwright / other writer. Is this retreat for me?
The retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instruction will focus on narrative writing; i.e., stories, whether fiction or memoir. But if you’re an essayist or poet or whatever, you’re entirely welcome.
Should I bring my work in progress?
Yes, if you have an on-going writing project, bring it with you! If you’re not currently working on anything, don’t worry, we’ll get you writing.

Should I bring my laptop?
Yes, if you prefer to work on your laptop. If you prefer to work on paper bring that. Or bring both.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes. But you need to let me know at least a week ahead of time, so I can let the staff know about your needs.
The Briars, with a view of the tower, where you'll find writing tables set up
I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is that possible?
If you want to arrive early or stay longer, that’s fine. You’ll book the Friday and Saturday night with Brian, and arrange any additional nights with the resort; just make sure they know you’re with Brian Henry’s writing group.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?

How about alcohol?
The resort serves alcohol with meals and has a licensed lounge called Drinkwaters. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever for consumption at our own lodge. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I bring my spouse (or partner or friend)?
If you want to share your room with a partner, they’re very welcome. Just let them know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day).

For more information or to register, email: 

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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