Wabigoon Lake, ON - Kathy McKeil
My name is Kathy McKeil and I’m currently living outside Hamilton, Ontario in a small community called Grimsby. I was born in Dryden, Ontario, northwestern Ontario, and have lived all over Canada and spent some time in New Zealand. I got involved with McKeil because I married the president – it’s been a great story for the last 12 years. We’ve been married 10, together for 12. I’ve been involved directly in the company for the last 5 years and it’s been a great experience. A bunch of wonderful guys and their families who live and sail and live on the water and love the water – it’s great.
My favorite memory of water is when I was 11 years old and every summer I’d go home to Dryden to visit my grandparents. They lived just outside of Dryden in a small community called Wabigoon, an Indian Reservation. And Lake Wabigoon is where we fished all summer long. I’d go fishing with my father, my grandfather and my brothers. My grandfather and grandmother had a fishing camp called Blander’s Camp and my father was a guide and we’d fish all summer long.
I remember my grandfather was very strict of taking alcohol on the boat. We used to be given two thermoses in the morning before we set out – one was filled with hot chocolate and the other was very strong coffee. I remember one time being out in the boat with my grandfather fishing and I saw him literally take the lid off the thermos and dip the lid in to Wabigoon Lake and fill it full of water then he poured what I thought was some very strong coffee into this cup of water and continued to just sock it back. I wondered at first why he was drinking it so fast and thought that it might be too hot for him. Turns out it wasn’t coffee at all, it was rye that he was mixing with the water that he had scooped out of Lake Wabigoon. For me I was a little surprised at the time, I remember being eleven thinking well he was so strict about not having alcohol on the boat yet here he is scooping water out of the lake and drinking it with rye. But when I think about that I think about how phenomenal it was that he could scoop water out of Lake Wabigoon, mix it with rye, and sock it back. I’m not sure we can’t do that today, but I hope we can someday soon.
Water has been important to me because it is in my DNA, I grew up on the lake going fishing every summer with my brothers and my grandparents and my father. I just love being on the water, I just love fishing. It’s just part of me, it’s part of my family history and our heritage and I feel most quiet inside when I’m on the lake and when I’m fishing. We support Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s work because we are people of the water. McKeil Marine is a marine transportation company, we make our living on the water. Protecting the water is very important to us and to our crew members and their families – it is our livelihood. We feel very blessed to be able to contribute in some way to making a difference and helping to protect our water. In terms of any other stories I’d like to tell, we are very excited about an initiative that we are launching within the organization at McKeil Marine. Our goal is to reduce plastic bottles on all of our vessels and in our offices. We’ve started a water exchange program essentially outfitting our crew with reusable plastic bottles and the crew are on side, they are very excited about being able to do their thing, just a little thing, to make a difference. My favorite fishing spot is Wabigoon Lake, at Anchorage Point.