Rouge River, ON - Calvin Jeffrey
Growing up water has been much more than a resource keeping me alive, rather it has been an outlet and a happy place for me. I had countless experiences with water as a child whether it was running through a sprinkler, swimming in my pool, or soaking my brothers with water balloons. All of these memories were wonderful but the one that really stands out was travelling to the Rouge River with my dad and exploring the river banks. As a kid, I would wait for weeks anticipating the next time I would see the river and daydream about all the different creatures I would find. The river was full of life and excitement, we often caught various critters but of course, let them go at the end of our trip. Sometimes it would only take the rapids of the river to captivate our adventurous minds as they sent our floating bodies gently down the river, possibly to an undiscovered place where we would yet again be filled with the excitement of exploring unknown lands. The rouge was filled with all sorts of different perspectives. You could walk along the river bank which had was mostly hidden by the small trees, bushes and tall grass making it feel like a jungle to a young boy my size. If you were lucky, on this path you might have been able to spot a small land animal like a snake or toad. You could also walk in the river where you could feel the breeze hit your face while your legs were relaxing in the cool water. Finally, you could take a hike up what we called "clay mountain" because of course it was a huge clay cliff-hanging right beside an abandoned ski hill near the river. Ironically, my brother Clayton was the only one who actually managed to ever reach the top as the rest of us always bailed out early and slid down the hill.
The thrill of these experiences were all exhilarating and were just about the most fun I had as a kid. My father carried on this idea of adventuring the river from his father who also took him to the Rouge when he was a kid. From this, my father grew connected with nature and became very close with animals. In fact, almost every time we entered the Rouge Valley he would often talk about a hidden spot his father used to take him too. This usually ended up in an hour of wandering around the rouge valley in search of the "secret" place which we have yet to find. Although we never did find this coveted spot, we were always filled with an anxious anticipation of the one day we might actually find the spot which he glorified. Finally, our trips would usually be capped off with a trip to the local ice cream store where we would discuss the highlights of our trip, mostly about who caught the largest frog or some odd snake that one of my brothers had boasted about seeing. I had a lot going on as a child with sporting events or games with the neighbourhood kids but my greatest memories came from being around this body of water the "twin rivers".