Built on the northern shores of Gloucester Pool, Ont., Severn Lodge, an establishment steeped in Muskoka tradition, can trace its history back nearly 150 years. But as of mid-January, the family resort has acquired a new addition: a for sale sign.
“We have decided to sell in order to be closer to our family in the United States,” says Sam Breckbill, the current owner, in an email. “My wife and I are both from Ohio. Although, I also grew up living at the lodge for half of the year, as we are open seasonally. Much of our family lives in Ohio and other U.S. states. We are at the stage in our lives when it’s important to be close to certain family members, especially those that are getting up in years and need our support.”
The decision to sell wasn’t easy, Breckbill adds, especially as business boomed during the pandemic. Deliberations had been ongoing for two years, weighted by the family history that hangs heavy over the resort’s 100 acres of pine-covered land.
Severn Lodge has been in the Breckbill family for 86 years. In 1928, Sam Breckbill’s grandfather, William “Bill” Breckbill, fresh out of high school, got a job working summers at Severn Lodge. Bill fell in love with the area’s clear waters, pine woods, and rock outcroppings. He spent eight years climbing his way up to general manager before purchasing the resort in 1936.
Before being owned by the Breckbills, the Severn Lodge lot passed through several hands, starting in the mid-1800s as the Georgian Bay Lumber Company headquarters. It was then that the main lodge was built. Around 1870, as the lumber industry waned, a group from Pittsburgh, Pa. bought the property, transforming it into the Mordolphton Camp, a place to fish and enjoy pristine Canadian wilderness.
In the early 1920s, the lot was again sold. Bought by George Barrick and Glen Crummel of Akron, Ohio, who bestowed the building with its current name, Severn Lodge, opening it to the public. Under Barrick and Crummel, Bill Breckbill acquired his taste for resort life.
Fast forward nine decades, and Severn Lodge has passed through three generations of Breckbills, employing 12 different family members.
Sam Breckbill recalls a number of notable moments from his time at the lodge: staff Thanksgiving dinners served late after the guests had finished eating. Each member of the table saying what they were thankful for. A sister getting married at the lodge. His mother throwing him a party after he bought into the business. Guests and past employees showing up, reminiscing about lodge events that stretched back 40 years.
“Severn Lodge is truly a special place that you must visit in order to understand how special it is,” Breckbill says. “I think it is a combination of the cozy, secluded beauty of the resort, the lake, and the Muskoka landscape, as well as the experience of being around people who are so happy and joyful from being in this environment.”
The asking price for the lodge is $12 million, plus $5 million for an adjoining five-acre peninsula, according to Colliers Canada, the agency representing the lodge. Offers will be accepted starting March 2.