Bay of Exploits, NL - Alex Gill
My name is Alex Gill. My water body would be the Bay of Exploits which is on the northeast coast of Newfoundland.
It’s where the Exploits River runs into the Atlantic Ocean but there’s a really great bay that then become Notre Dame Bay, and then it becomes the North Atlantic. I grew up beside that bay and it was always there. It was one of these natural features that everybody just takes for granted because it is there all the time. So as a kid, you think oh it’s only 20 metres down the road – wow it’s the ocean. And the bay freezes solid in the winter so it’s like the Arizona salt flats. It’s completely flat almost to the horizon and it’s ice. And you look at it and you think oh that’s just normal.
It’s only when you go out into the world and you see that that isn’t a normal experience for people, that you have all this freshwater running into the ocean. That there’s this whole tidal interface where there are ospreys, and there are whales and there are seals. It’s just kind of part of the natural world. You only really appreciate that when you get away from it. When you grow up around it, I think it’s kind of the case for Canada, you grow up around so many things that are natural; you don’t really realize how incredibly precious they are until you see what people don’t have. We used to kind of run along the shore all the time, we would jig fish off the wharf.
As I got older, I’d fish for cod fish and take it home. You’d be able to take something out of the ocean and eat it within half an hour which was awesome. It’s still really tasty to do that. I remember one of the most poignant memories I have about that is my mom hated the winter. My mom came from Scotland and I have no idea why she moved to Newfoundland. She said because she loved my dad. I said, for a place where you hate the winter, you came to the wrong place because it is winter in Newfoundland for 9 months a year.
I remember being home once and the winter was just starting to break, the ice was starting to break, the fog was coming in. There’s nothing but broken ice right up to the horizon. I was struck by how beautiful it was. I looked and it and I said, “Mom, this is awesome. Do you have any idea how gorgeous this is”. My mother who spent most of her life living beside that said “Oh my god, what’s beautiful about that, that’s horrible”, and she just kept driving. For me, that kind of reinforced the fact that until you are taken away from something and you realize how precious it is, you don’t really realize how incredibly important and beautiful something like that is.