Rewind and Fastforward


It has been a long time since I paddled a canoe across a still Ontario lake.

Yes, I’ve canoed in the intervening time, but BC shorelines are not the same as Ontario ones. Ontario ones, in comparison, look so “quaint” and miniature: the trees are smaller here, the rocks less jagged and imposing. As some of our youth scholars reminded me, however, they are no less dramatic, no less beautiful, and no less dangerous.

I found myself reflecting back to weeks spent at the cottage in the lakes of Ontario as a child. We would take early morning paddles around the lake looking for turtles and loon nests and listening for the call of the loon. I relished the stillness and the silence of the moment and would try and paddle as silently as possible.

Like birdwatching, canoeing is one of those things that I associate with my mum.

I was paddling home across Cameron Lake, enjoying silence in the companionship of my fellow-paddlers, when I began to reflect a little more on what I was doing. Mum used to lead canoe trips with young people on Ontario lakes. Here I was, some odd 40 years later, canoeing on Ontario lakes with young people for the first time as a leader. Its the closest I’ve felt to mum in a long time.