Buckhorn Lake, ON - Naomi Cardoz

My Watermark is Buckhorn Lake, Ontario.

I am an outdoor enthusiast, I have spent many summers either camping, hiking or renting a cottage near a beautiful Canadian lake somewhere in Ontario. These annual family outings are always something I look forward to, as they not only bring together family and friends, but they give me a chance to take a break from the chaos of urban city life, and embrace the tranquil brilliance of nature.

There is a certain delight in waking up to the crisp morning air, and gazing out over the shimmering water, partially covered by a gentle eerie mist. In the evenings, we usually gather as a group around a fire to watch the fiery summer sun, as it slowly sets below the dark water’s horizon.

Out of the various locations that my family and I have visited to get in touch with the great outdoors, there is one region in particular that always draws us back. The Kawartha Lakes in eastern-central Ontario is a region with a collections of many lakes, most of which have the Trent-Severn Waterway running through them. They are known for recreational tourism. The word “kawartha” itself means “bright waters and happy lands”. Buckhorn Lake is one of these many bodies of water, and it lies within the region of the Curve Lake First Nations. The First Nations people who care for the land rent out a cottage on Buckhorn Lake, which my family and I visit at least once every year. The location of the cottage is on an isolated peninsula, covered with wooded forests and trails to explore. Being on a peninsula, there are multiple spots with access to water where I can do some of my favourite activities like fishing, swimming, and going for rides in the canoe. Buckhorn Lake is always an exciting and a welcoming destination as it brings together my family and friends, and my love for nature.

The First Nations community of Curve Lake also organize many events along the water during the summer, such as the traditional canoe races. I remember going to watch the canoe races one particular summer with my family and friends. We sat along the shoreline with many others –natives and non-natives alike- who had also gathered to watch the festivities. The deep blue water lay relatively still, and sparkled as the sun shone down that afternoon, on Buckhorn Lake. The array of coniferous and deciduous trees splashing different shades of green in the distance made the scene that much more remarkable. Being so close to the water, there was a slight chill in the air, though it was mid-afternoon; however, the weather was soon forgotten as the boats emerged. The natives had painted their boats with traditional patterns and designs using bright colours, which looked magnificent gliding along the surface of the dark water. There was an average of five canoes racing against each other at a time. In the final round, the traditional war canoes were brought out and I remember watching them in amazement as they were noticeably larger than the other canoes with eight oarsmen. The coordinated splashing of the oars to the sound of the beating drum and chanting turned this into a lasting memory.

It was so wonderful to be by the lake that afternoon and enjoy the races, as well as the company of family and friends as we enjoyed our picnic, surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of Buckhorn Lake – my stunning home away from home.

Buckhorn Lake, ON
Bonnie McElhinny
Naomi Cardoz

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