Lake Mashagama, ON - Jack Schmitt
My Watermark is Lake Mashagama in Northern Ontario.
In all honesty, I am kind of conflicted as to whether or not I want to highlight this beautiful lake and let people in the world know that it exists or if I should just leave it a secret; but, it has had a big impact on me so we’ll go with it.
Lake Mashagama is a lake that has truly been with me throughout my entire life. We’ve got a cabin up on that lake, and my first time up there was when I was around nine months old. I’ve gone up there every year since then.
Lake Mashagama is important to me because of a couple of different reasons. It’s a piece of land and waterbody that I’ve known longest, my entire life, and that I’m most familiar with. I’ve moved around throughout life, but that lake has been kind of a constant in my life that I’ve always gone to every year.
At a really young age, the water gave me an example of what high water quality is really like. I can remember looking off the edge of our dock into the 15 feet deep waters below, and I could see every stone, every rock down there. The area is completely undeveloped. I think the only impact on the environment up there is from logging, and it hasn’t been logged in probably 120-150 years. So, it’s as unadulterated a natural body of water as I’ve ever been to. That’s where I learned to swim. That’s where I learned to fish. All those things you do in water, I did (and still do) there.
One of the most memorable experiences I have on Lake Mashagama took place in the summer of 1997. This experience is one I remember most distinctly. We had some family and friends up there at our cabin, and I just remember spending an entire day with my cousin off the edge of our dock. I think we spent an entire four or five hours in the water coming up with games to play.
I remember challenging each other on who could dive the deepest and who could touch the lowest step on the ladder off our dock. We played and played for those four or five hours straight so it’s a pretty distinct memory. I have a lot of distinct memories, but that memory really embodies why that body of water is so great. My appreciation for the outdoors really comes from my time spent there, both in the lake and around it.
I also remember a few summers when we had a high risk of forest fires. Now, forest fires can be good as they are a part of a natural process, but they change the environment pretty significantly and can also influence a short-term change in water quality. So, one summer, there was a pretty big fire on one end of the lake right before I was born and later on I was able to see the kind of regrowth in the area after the fire.
There was another summer when there was a fire in the area and big planes came in and used Lake Mashagama to scoop water for dousing the flames. When these fires occurred, each time they reminded me of the temporary nature of the environment around Lake Mashagama and how quickly things can change.