My parents used to own a cute little cottage on a rural Canadian lake. A friend of my mum’s described it as ‘cute as a bug’s ear’. You had to drive through a farmer’s cow field, sometimes shooing heifers out of your way to get there. And then up the side of a hill you’d swear would crumble beneath your tires. This was rough Ontario scrub land surrounding the cutest puddle of water and life you could ever imagine. Its name was Davern Lake.
About a dozen cottages line the one side of this lake and the entire other side is Crown land. A railway runs through that land and over a bridge that was no doubt the site of many a dare. I remember a story from my childhood that my own Daddy tried to cross that bridge once only to run back before a train came.
Davern Lake is representative of several different commonly seen ecosystems from not only Ontario, but many of the other seasonal provinces of Canada. To the left is a swamp and marshy area that hides the loons and their young until they’re ready to travel abroad. No doubt a few noble beaver lines have called this area home too. Reptiles, insects, microorganisms live here in complete harmony, all doing their job inside this cycle of life.
To the right and across is an odd area that is cleared of most seaweed to such an extent that if you stand up in your boat (with a life jacket of course) you can actually see the Bass swimming for your bait. This area is crystal clear with light coloured sand on the bottom. The bottom appears to be mere feet away though I’m sure it was well over my head. It’s the closest part of the lake to the train track, and every time a train would come, all the fish would scurry.
This lake and this cottage is becoming a rarity now. We used to wash, bathe, and flush with the lake water. A plastic mallard duck held up the pipe supplying lake water to the cottage. As beach after beach, shoreline after shoreline sees itself inundated with trash, toxins, sewage, and chemical run-off, swimming in anything other than a chlorinated pool will be unheard of soon.
Nature even seems to be turning on itself, like she has an auto-immune disease caused by an imbalance in her ph. Algae blooms have such beautiful power to alter everything growing in their midst. As anyone who has ever successfully raised fish in an aquarium will tell you, it’s a fine balance of good and bad bacteria that keeps an ecosystem like this healthy.
In these our days of extraction, are gems like Lake Davern safe from exploration? If they find oil across the lake deep down in that Crown land, will it too just become a side effect of progress? Will ownership mean anything when the last drops of oil are being squeezed from her flesh?
When I hear our anthem and think about our home on native land, I see places like Lake Davern. I feel the warm soil under my feet as my toe digs in and finds a piece of artifact from a time long ago. I smell the piercing odor of silage ripening in the barn. There is just so much beauty around us in our country. Enough to change laws, enough to spend tax dollars protecting it.
In the last eight years the Conservative Government has torn apart more protective measures for our environment than any other government. They are paving the way for big industry to squeeze us dry, province by crucial province.