Nature Canada

Do you have a favourite lake or pond?

Ice formation, Stan Wojtaszek

With Fall well underway, Canadians are saying “see you soon” to lakes and ponds all across the country for yet another winter. Swimming, paddling, fishing and visits to the lakeside cottage have, among other things, been put on hold for awhile. But now is a great time to reflect on the many ways that lakes and ponds help us connect to nature throughout the year; how they are part of our experience of the ‘true north, strong and free’. And I can’t forget all the opportunities lakes offer for pond hockey, ice-fishing and skating during the winter months!

Canadians love their waterscapes, it’s pretty much a fact. Saskatchewan-based author Allan Casey explores the almost intrinsic relationship Canadians have with lakes and other water bodies in his 2010 Governor General’s Award-winning book Lakeland: Journeys into the Soul of Canada. Through a series of encounters with several of Canada’s lesser-known but nonetheless well-loved lakes, Casey explains how lakes are an integral part of the Canadian experience. In the opening chapter he writes:

“Like a lot of Canadians, I have been drawn irresistibly to lakes my whole life. Access to pure lakes is fundamental to my quality of life in my home and native land. I love them all.” (from p.2)

That excerpt resonates with me in many ways. I didn’t grow up on a lake, nor did I grow up with a lakeside family cottage or taking annual paddling trips or attending summer camp. But I did grow up with fond memories of lots of time spent at lakes and ponds, giving me a great appreciation of them as accessible water bodies. For me lakes were not the ocean, which in my experience on the Bay of Fundy was an all-at-once powerful, beautiful and merciless body of water. Lakes were by no means innocuous in my mind, but they were more palpable, more enjoyable – they were more fun.
With my training in environmental science and biology, lakes came to mean even more to me and my experience as a Canadian. Lakes are so much more than just bodies of water or habitat for “fish”. You can read all about lakes as habitat and how to promote healthier human and wildlife habitat along Canada’s shorelines at The Living By Water Project. You may also be interested in a report our own Ted Cheskey recently co-authored, called Birds At Risk: The Importance of Canada’s Boreal Wetlands and Waterways.
Since expanding my perspective on lakes, I’ve become an avid paddler (whenever I get the chance) and I love exploring lakes in search of birds, fish, crustaceans, freshwater molluscs, dragonflies and other invertebrates, submergent and emergent plants, solace, recharge… you name it. And now as a parent I have the opportunity to see lakes through my daughter’s eyes. I look forward to our first paddling trip together, or the first time we skate on a wide open pond. We had lots of fun this summer exploring lakes in baby-steps (literally) and finding out how fun it is to get Mummy and Daddy wet.
Do I have a favourite lake in Canada? Absolutely! I love a waterscape called Frozen Ocean Lake in Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia. I have fond memories of introducing good friends to open water paddling on that lake, and the back-country campsites are amazing! I also love Big Trout and Trout Lakes in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. And I’m always glad to expand this list!
So, do you have a favourite lake or pond? If so then stay tuned to our blog. Why? Because we’re starting Canada’s first ‘Love My Lake’ Declaration – a list of people who want to declare that Canada’s lakes are special to them. Check back soon for more details on how you can get involved!
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