Georgian Bay, ON - Steve Watts
My Watermark is Georgian Bay, Ontario.
Although I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, the body of water with the biggest impact on my life is Georgian Bay. As early as 6 months old, my family camped along the shores of Georgian Bay at Pointe Au Baril Provincial Park. With our campsite feet from the beach, water was at the centre of my summers. During the warm summer days and chilled nights, water became a playground, a meeting place, and a source of food.
Early risings meant a glimpse at the glassy surface and the blanket of fog hugging the shoreline. If you were lucky, Great Blue Herons could be seen snagging breakfast in the reeds. Days were often spent swimming and making up new games in the water. Beach days also meant a chance to make new friends, rekindle old relationships, and get a little sunburnt. All-day fishing trips were often the alternative to beach days, and surprisingly, fishing was fruitful. Walking back to camp with the day’s catch evoked a certain confidence as we walked past other campers. A glowing pride and excitement to eat our bounty was clear.
The water at night took on a different persona. Teeming with bullfrogs, crawfish, and garpike, it became a place to explore by flashlight, testing our bravery. I hate to admit it, but my brother was always the one diving for bullfrogs while I held the flashlight. At night, the beach also became a stargazer’s dream as streams of twinkling stars light up the blackness of the night. I remember spending hours with my brother and grandmother craning our necks upward watching a meteor shower. We stood at the edge of the water, sand in our flip flops, waves crashing as the show unfolded above us.
As I grow older, I go in the water less and less at Pointe Au Baril. I am not sure why. Perhaps it’s a desire to preserve memories and remember them from a distance. Or maybe it’s just my changing appetite for exploring on land. Regardless of the reason, I will always have those summers, those views burned into my memory, those comforting smells, that feeling of being home.