Credit River, ON - Lawrence Laamanen

My Watermark is the Credit River, Ontario.

In temperate youth I belonged to the Ontario Voyagers Kayak Club. We would kayak many rivers all through Southern Ontario.

The one day trip we did was on the Credit River, running south from Terra Cotta, It’s a lovely section of river, near Toronto, where I live. Having viable waterways for Kayaking, within an hour’s drive of Toronto, is a rare commodity.

We put in at Terra Cotta, and we were going south, right around Norval. There was a dam across the river which blocks access. The owner of the damn blocked access not only over the dam but around it as well. People who are in the know have to take out, portage around this dam and his property, and then put again for their south.

Of course my understanding was that all rivers were navigable. It just happens that the owner of the damn was also a member of the Liberal Provincial Parliament, and he had a great deal of influence in the community.

I didn't know about this restriction until after I had gone down, climbed over the damn, with my kayak and put in again. In the mean time, the owner seeing us, came out and started yelling and screaming at us, saying we were trespassing on his property. By that time, I was already in the water and on my way.

I learned afterwards about the whole story. To be fair, he did allow access around the damn at one point, however some users abused the privilege and created a mess that he had to clean up. Also there was a spillway through the damn, that some kids were playing in, and they went down, got caught in some branches in the spillway, and died. So one hand, his concerns were quite legitimate, but on the other it was an impediment to the navigation of the river. Of course, it caused a need for an unnecessary portage. This happened around 40 years ago, and is probably still in effect, but I don’t know.

However, on the rest of the Credit River, including the spring Credit Races, we would kayak and have gates that we would travel through. It was a kayak race. Again, to have that kind of facility within an hour’s drive of Toronto is fantastic.

I also belong to a off-road motorcycle group, and we use various conservation areas. Some conservation groups encourage motor cycle groups, others don’t. So the net result is that the motor cycle groups maintain the trails within the conservation areas far better than conservation authority can afford to maintain. They do cause disruption to the individuals seeking peace and solitude, but when we are not there, they also get to enjoy the work that we preformed including clearing the trails and keeping the shrubs down.

The more a facility is used whether it be a trail or waterway, the more likely they are to be conservation oriented. So they are not going to spill garbage, or abuse it. They will see the value in it. The more a facility is used, the better value of society derives from it.

Credit River, ON
Charly Caproff
Lawrence Laamanen

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