Lake Ontario - Isabelle Oke
Growing up in Pickering, the Lake had long held the role of geographical reference point to help orient other landmarks.
It didn’t spark the idea that it was a shore where I might enjoy myself; Every year I spent in elementary school in the region, I received a consent form for my parents to sign, authorizing the school to administer Potassium iodide pills in case the nuclear power plant at the water’s edge should experience some malfunction. This is the same power plant that loomed in the background of summer soccer games, and prompts the common GTA quip about growing a third arm if one should take a dip in the lake.
Unreliable transit to get to the water’s edge brought these elements to a head, to the point where I attended a canoe camp years into my teens and didn’t mind the camp’s lack of funding and resources because the limited number of canoes limited my time in the murky uncertain waters of Lake Ontario.
The tides began to turn when with enough time I’d begun to collect little pleasant moments at the lakefront: a night spent watching fireworks here, peeking at the waves in the distance from the GO train ride home, and of course walks with my mom or friends at the waterfront.
I spent some time outside of Ontario, and was much more prepared to appreciate the bodies of water, rivers, creeks, and brooks – that I encountered along the way. The lake was easy to fold into these feelings upon a more permanent return to Pickering, and it was a seamless step to rely on its presence to help clear my mind on a mentally tough day, or for creative inspiration.