Marie Lake, AB - Andrea Johancsik

My parents, Leanne and Colin, purchased a cabin at Marie Lake, Alberta (near Cold Lake) in 1991. Despite its proximity to oil and gas development, this lake is absolutely pristine. Although I could talk about numerous stories, like seeing otter, beaver, golden eagles, pelicans, and loons, fishing walleye and jackfish, 'saving minnows' as kids, watching the ice break on May Long weekend, canoeing down the creek in my dad's handmade canoe, swimming, waterskiing, and collecting rocks, I will tell one story our family refers to every year. When I was a kid with my two older siblings, we built sandcastles and played in abundant, soft sand. It wasn't, you know, Australia sand, but it was still comfortable and voluminous enough to play in. Over the 20-some years we've been at our property on the lake, the sand has shifted to the other end of the beach, replacing 'our' beach with rocks. During high-water years, this makes for a particularly uncomfortable time barefoot! To me, the changing beach represents the natural changes that happen to a healthy boreal lake in a human lifetime. Multiply by thousands of years and the lake has certainly changed since the last glaciation; however, it continues to support a broad range of wildlife and a functioning native ecosystem. As development pressures and looming climate change threaten to change Marie Lake at a much faster and unforseen pace, I worry for the health of this lake I grew up watching - but I know that its pristine ecosystem is more resilient than damaged or polluted water bodies in Alberta. The loon cries; I hear hope.

Marie Lake, AB
Chloe Cross
Andrea Johancsik

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