Black River, ON - Tanya Clark

My Watermark is Black River, Ontario.

My story is from my childhood and the time that I spent on the Black River. Every summer my mom, aunt and godmother would take a whole crew of kids out to the Black River Campground outside of Washago (brave women!). The river played a key part in our upbringing and experiences. We named the rocks that we played on, explored the bushes and moss that flourished on the granite and we were constantly in the water.

Our time revolved around the rocks and rapids. Armed with inner tubes, we’d start out at the set of rapids near our campsite. Scrambling over the rocks in our bare feet, we’d jump into our tubes and head off down the rapids - grabbing at each other’s feet, splashing and paddling down the river. Countless hours were spent doing this route over and over, through the rapids and back onto land, across the island to start again.

When we needed a different activity to challenge ourselves with, we would take turns in small groups and go out into the heart of the rapids. We’d try to hang onto the rocks and go underwater, or sit right in the middle without being swept away. I’m not much of a risk taker, but along with my peers, I was fearless in the face of the aptly named Black River. Out into the rushing water, it seemed like it was the strongest force of nature I would ever face. Fighting against the current, I’d shuffle my feet along the rocky bottom and claim my spot. Crouching down, submerging my hands into the cool waters, I’d find a crack big enough to fit my fingers into. I’d take the plunge. Trusting that my hands could hang on underwater, I would let my feet out behind me like a brook trout, swimming upstream against the current. Periodically putting my head under, the entire world disappeared – muffled by the noise of the water around me.

This was the place where I learned about the way that water moves. About eddies, and reading the rapids. I learned about paddling and using my muscles to move in the direction I wanted. This is where I formed friendships that I still have today. I am forever bonded with the Black River and the connected waterways. The health of these waters are connected to my own well-being. Memories from the many years that we camped at the Black River Campground will never fade.

Black River, ON
Mark Mattson
Tanya Clark

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