Lake Joseph, ON - Christopher Willcocks
My Watermark is Lake Joseph, Ontario.
Water: More than a Resource
Water in various forms has been so influential in my life. Often times I don't even realize how much it drives my lifestyle and quality of life. Whether used purely as a resource, a means of activity or for health purposes both mental and physical.
My story begins on the shores of Lake Joseph, Ontario at my family's summer cottage. Each summer for as long as I can remember we ventured north and spent our summers relaxing, working and spending quality time together. We are surrounded by the beautiful scenic landscapes of the Canadian Shield. Lake Joseph is located in the region of Muskoka, Ontario and is home to many seasonal summer cottagers looking for an escape from the city. As a child I spent hours building forts, rope swings, and cabins with my cousins and brothers along the shore. We interacted with the land and came to appreciate the various systems that the lake offered. The water provides a deep calming sense. Throughout my childhood I learned the various tree species (Red/White Pine, Hemlock, Cedar and Birch) and my grandfather taught me the local bird species on the lake (Barn Owl, Chickadee, Cardinal, Loon). So much of the knowledge I gained was subconsciously flowing into my mind. This knowledge is credited to my grandparents who have taught me the value of preservation, and one’s connection with the land and animals that the lake offers. I often reflect on how privileged I am - to be immersed in what nature has to offer. I have learned that the human spirit needs places where nature can present all it has to offer, its beauty, grace and ferocity.
I often spend summer nights watching the sunset and swimming in the lake. Various activities such as waterskiing, canoeing, and swimming provide me with a direct physical connection to the water. I truly feel that the lake provides mental benefits among other things. I have come to understand my place in nature and understand my effects on the environment. I have found that when I take time to pause and reflect I receive a sense of fulfilment within myself.
Lake Joseph is threatened in various ways. Firstly, the increase in popularity of the region is creating lots of construction, forcing wildlife out of their habitats. Secondly, the increase in development results in more boat traffic which pollutes the water and disturbs species such as the Loon. Finally, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid originally from Asia (invasive species) is killing the Hemlock trees which is decreasing canopy coverage that supports various systems. However, the Lake has strict development policies and conservation efforts to combat these issues. In conclusion, water is more than a resource - it’s for health, education, entertainment, enjoyment, and allows for nature to connect with the human spirit.