Lake St. Francis, ON - Don Baker

When kids are able to spend their summers on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence river they inevitably will do things which the parents have told them not to.

We were no different.

We were told to never jump in the water at the point without an adult present and definitely not when one of the “big” boats was passing by, which they did frequently. The danger was mainly from the displacement caused by the passing ships which creates the waves along with a naturally fast current of the river. Mind you, as kids we could swim like fish.

What the adults didn’t seem to take into account was how “cool” it was to listen to the propellers of the passing ships at the closest possible place, which is why we called it the point. The point was by far the closest place the ships came to the island -a mere 100 yards or so. The ships propeller could emit a sluggish thudding sound or a newer higher pitched wail, but all of these sounded so exciting especially because we were forbidden to do this. This became a passage of right … a badge of honor if you will. I was 9 yrs. old.

The rhythms and beats of those passing ships has stayed with me all these years. After most the heavy lifting was done raising our kids (the youngest is 17) it was time for me to re-visit one of the things I liked to do most…. which is make music.

I started to record the passing ships underwater with my Hydrometer – purchased as a kit online.
The results were interesting and varied but extremely exciting for me as I enjoyed the nerdiness of it.

Next stop was to make some of these recordings into a loop which I could then use in my music. During my first few performances the loops were hard to hear and the slide show showing the ships all became a bit too clunky. By this time it actually didn’t matter as I was becoming addicted to song writing and arranging.

I have a project called - SHIPS - songs of Don Baker - and have started performing these in Toronto.

Jessica Gordon
Don Baker

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