Bronte Creek, ON - Brett Rogers
My Watermark is Bronte Creek, Ontario.
I can't say for sure but I am pretty certain that I am one of the few people who can say they have their very own river office. I can access it 24/7, the rent is absolutely free and the commute is about a 15 minute hike down the Bruce Trail from my home. Nestled between two of Southern Ontario's most dramatic landmarks - Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo of the Niagara Escarpment - my river office is located about 3 km up river from Lowville Park along the southern shoreline of Bronte Creek.
I've long believed that one never goes for a walk in nature and comes back feeling worse than when they left. This is especially true when you walk beside water. My river office is both my church and my refuge. It’s the place where I go when I am at my most happiest and it’s the place where I go when I need to reflect. It provides the perfect watering hole to cool off on a hot summer’s day and no matter what the season, it truly is the perfect place for creative inspiration. Some of my fondest memories were those 15 years I would visit this spot with my trusted three-legged dog, Chief. Here I would toss large logs into the water as he would endlessly retrieve log after log, never getting tired. Man do I miss those days.
For a smaller creek, Bronte Creek is hidden deep inside an impressive valley that often gives you the feeling that you’re in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains when the reality is your less than 100 km from Canada’s largest city. Being so close to millions of people and yet so far removed from the urban world is something I try not to take for granted. Having nature within reach never loses it’s appeal. It’s still a thrill to spot a migrating trout or salmon, and if I can, I still love catching a crawfish with my bare hands just to prove I haven’t lost those skills I acquired as a child.
Over the years, I’ve spotted deer, coyotes, turkeys, swans, red-tailed hawks and plenty of turtles, all of which are good signs that this waterway is relatively healthy. As Bronte flows closer to Lake Ontario, the creek crosses underneath two major highways, several major rail corridors, with urban sprawl flanked on both sides. Thanks to the depth of the valley, combined with the impressive array of secondary old growth forest, many of the realities of the 21st century can often be forgotten, even when you're literally in the middle of the Greater Toronto Area. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
A few years back a couple buddies and I decided we needed to fully explore this waterway first hand. It was after a winter of substantial snowfall when the spring flood was in full effect. Outfitted in wetsuits, we set off from Lowville Park on stand up paddles boards and navigated our way all the way to Lake Ontario, a distance we estimated to be about 36 km. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I had such a great trip that I repeated the feat five days later. To think I had left home to explore the Yukon, Mackenzie, Mississippi and Ganges Rivers, when this awesome creek was literally in my backyard, made me both thrilled for my discovery and ashamed for overlooking something so obvious.
Bronte Creek is important to me because it is a place where both natural water and earth are within my reach. No matter what time of year, no matter if it’s raining, snowing or if it’s humid as heck, Bronte Creek, specifically my river office, is always there waiting for me.
I forgot to mention why I call it my river office. I actually get one bar of reception on my smartphone, most of the time anyways. There's no questions that’s convenient but the truth is, who needs to be connected when you’re sitting beside the river?