Lake Ontario - Paddi-Anne Crossin

I live on the northwest shore of the easternmost Great Lake - Lake Ontario.

This lake has always been a huge presence in my life - a way to orient myself geographically, its enormous horizon calms my nervous system and gives a sense of perspective. In a practical sense, as the source of Toronto’s drinking water, this lake sustains me along with millions of others. But when I was growing up, it also had a dark side - something to avoid because it was considered to be dirty, smelly, and could make you sick. I recall standing above the sewer outflows on Kew Beach after a heavy rain and seeing dark clouds filled with condoms, tampons and other garbage, flowing out into the lake. During my years as a waterfront lifeguard, we would go out of our way to avoid making contact with the water. Swimming was always reserved for lakes further north - up in cottage country.

But that all changed for me on Nov 18th, 2022.

Through a friend, I was introduced to winter lake dips at Kew Beach in Toronto and was instantly hooked! There is nothing quite like feeling the icy cold water on your skin, while being at eye level with the horizon, as the morning sun fills the sky with its deep orange glow and then bursts up over the dark water, into the winter sky!

Months went by and I kept returning to the water, my cold dips evolved into swimming and my connection with the lake deepened.

Still, something was missing… As a winter lake user, the most common question I would get after, “Isn’t it freezing?”, is, “Isn’t it dirty?” and I really didn’t have an answer. This led me to Swim Drink Fish and the launch of a community winter water sampling pilot program, which marked the beginning of my water stewardship journey. Sharing this watermark with you is another step in that journey and my ever-evolving relationship with the lake where I live.

“You need water, but the water also needs you.” Swim Drink Fish Canada

Lake Ontario, ON
Watermark Website
Paddi-Anne Crossin

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