About this blog:
The arm of Lake Huron we now call Georgian Bay must have been docile when Samuel de Champlain, with his Wendat (Huron) escorts, emerged from the French River in 1615 upon its clear waters. He was one of the first Europeans to see it, and he called it la mere douce, the gentle or sweetwater sea.
Maybe it is because I was conceived in an ancient cottage there in 1935 that I have had the Bay in my blood for a lifetime. Now I live with memories of that much loved place that I wish to share through this blog, Sweetwaters.
It is NOT about fancy cottages, fast boats, or modern recreational lifestyles. It IS about appreciations and stewardship of the natural Bay, its waterways, islands, shores, wildlife, and people who made it their home. It also includes lore and legends and snippets of history
Some years ago we had a Sweetwaters website with similar goals, but life’s demands forced us to shelve it. Now, once I get the hang of this blogging, we invite readers to also share their memories of these sweet waters.
— The Ancient Islander
About the Bay
Georgian Bay is part of the Great Lakes in the middle of North America, separated in the west from Lake Huron by the Bruce Peninsula, several islands, and the massive eastern end of Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. The Bay is about 190 kms long and 80 kms wide. Champlain entered the Bay in its northeast corner after following the traditional indigenous canoe route from the present-day Montreal area up the Ottawa and down the French Rivers. His escorts paddled him all the way south to their home territory near what is now Midland.
They passed through the myriad channels among the thousands of rocky islands that line the Bay’s north and east shores. This is the area I am most familiar with, though the more open southern and western parts of the Bay are also a focus of this blog.
Since Champlain’s arrival four centuries ago, followed by other Europeans, the Georgian Bay area has gone through various highs and lows, including the tragic almost complete decimation of the Huron people, and the taking of traditional lands of Anishinaabe people who gradually replaced the Hurons in the south from other areas around the Bay. Much has changed since then. Native lands have shrunk to small reserves, commercial fishing has all but died out, logging is finished, sailing and steamships and the yards that built them are long gone, and the railroads that reached the principal towns have almost disappeared.
The fishing, lumbering, shipping and railroads all gasped their last breaths during my lifetime, and I feel privileged to have known some of the people who lived then. A few of their experiences will be told in Sweetwaters. Cottaging has mushroomed along the eastern shore as incomes in Toronto, an hour or two south, escalated several decades ago. With that has come demand for urban-like services and conveniences bringing pollution and other impacts on the waters and wilderness.
View map of Georgian Bay: http://www.boatinggeorgianbay.com/maps.html
The Bay has changed greatly over 80 years. But if we peel back the veneer of busy waterways, palatial cottages, noisy boats and careless, unappreciative people, we might catch a glimpse of the real Georgian Bay and revel in its natural beauty. I hope Sweetwaters helps you do that
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