‘The sun is beaming down on me, but the gentle breezes cool my (most likely) burning skin. Sun screen is slathered on, but I feel myself working up to...
...slipping into the cool waters of the fresh lake waters. Sitting here on the dock in my chaise lounge with my feet up in my swim suit makes me think and reflect to all the amazing memories I have had here. I adjust my wide-brimmed hat, and take a deep breath of the fragrant sweet summer air. Soon, I think to myself, soon I will plop into the water, right now I am content in the mindfulness of just being in this incredible place, with my mind occasionally wandering off thinking and reflecting on the happy decades spent here…’
Over all these years that I have been coming to this lake, where there are the privately-owned properties, and the Crown-owned lands, like myself, I have watched an evolution. Quiet, simple cabins have gone by the wayside, as I have seen so much new development over the years. In fact, of late, it is tad unfortunate that there are so many more people, boats, activities and with all that, the noise. Those properties that have roads and power are now constructing massive summer homes, with multi-tiered beautiful structures, and multi-levels of landscaped properties. Those of us who sit with water-access only properties are, for the most part, often living the simpler, and often still, the off-grid, ways of life, as many, like myself, generally only seasonally visit our simpler cabins. (Of course, there are still a few well-developed water-access-only cabins, with more sophisticated systems of power generation, including solar; and full waste systems with septic fields; plus, fully insulated and well-constructed cabins, docks and boathouses, and I salute them. Please may I have their bank accounts balances!)
I first came to this place with my parents and one sibling, when I was about 8 years old. Since we were then living on a busy West Coast city metropolis, my father, in his wisdom, thought we should find a summer place closer to where we lived. My mother had come from back East, and her parents had owned a 7-acre full summer residence and property at Lake of the Woods, a very large lake that spanned parts of two provinces, Ontario and Manitoba. Her childhood had seemed been rather posh at her summer home, with all the amenities my little place does not have. She had lots of land, with power and water systems in the main summer house, plus guest cabins, two docks, two boathouses, another private area of beach, and a large, circular, grassy tennis court. We travelled the waters to the property in a beautiful old, inboard wooden Chris-Craft, and my mother’s early years included sailing, with a local yacht club membership at her lake in her youthful and teen summers.
Until I was 6 years old, every summer my family travelled across Canada, heading to Manitoba, in order to visit my grandparents, who still lived there then, and then we all would pack up and go to ‘the lake’.
Summer life ended there when I was 6, as I believe it was around that time that my grandparents decided to sell that property and move to the West Coast to be closer to where we lived. As I youngster, I knew not of all the reasoning around the changes, but I do remember my grandparents wanted to experience the West Coast’s warmer winter climate as they aged. Winters were often pretty cold and harsh where they were from.
I can share with you that even today, amazingly, I have dozens of rich childhood memories of my summers at that place, with my brother, parents, grandparents and uncle. I could even today, draw out the whole layout of the property and describe to you in detail so many things even though I have not been back there since I was 6 years old. I could tell you about the blueberry bushes along the path, and how my brother and I would pick the ripe, fat, juicy purple berries and plop them into our morning bowls of thick porridge drizzled with milk. I could describe the many activities and outings, and, even have memories of the places in the nearby little town we travelled to by boat, where we would go for our groceries and supplies. I could describe the make-believe games my brother and I played as youngsters there. I could describe the terrifying booms of the thunder and lightning storms over the water as we watched, terrified, from the main dining table by the large many-paned window. Truly, the mind is an amazing thing for me to have so many memories of those few years I went there with my family. I often wonder how we can remember so many past details as a youngster, so many years ago, and forget the so nearly recent goings-on as an aging adult. Ah, such are the mysteries of life! A family that my parents knew, who also had a summer property at Lake of the Woods, came to buy a place at my little lake here on the BC coast, and so, my father, found and signed the government lease on this little place, and my summers here began. I was 8 years old by then, my younger brother being just 6, and we came to this place which was very different from the affluent existence of our previous summer house back East. In fact, I remember the day my mother first saw the little lake cabin, she took one look around the room and immediately broke down in a flurry of tears. She thought she might be having a few more amenities than a bucket thrown into the lake for water and a few kerosene lamps for light at night with two small children in tow. It was rather a culture shock for her, and clearly, not what she had expected. My father, who also had a very affluent and upper-society upbringing, thought it would be an exciting new family camping existence, you know, ‘get back to the basics’, ‘experience nature’. After all, my parents knew that other family, and he figured we would meet new lake neighbours and families, and this would all be just so much fun. I will mention, that my father never did laundry. ‘Roughing it’, was not really his forte. He hunted occasionally, mostly ducks, by bow and arrow, with the boys, but true camping was not really something he ever did, nor did my mother. This was going to be an eye-opening ‘reality check’ experience for all of us, though it seemed pretty exciting to my brother and I. And so it began, about 1963, that my family would come to this little lake from the city off and on, and spend time together in our little one-room cabin during the summer months. For my parents, a tad of a culture shock and awakening with small children. For us kids, a wild and crazy adventure out in the woods on a lake, it was fabulous!
This is truly a place where I feel in my heart, (and have often stated),‘this is a not just I place I know, but a place who knows me’. This place, this gem in the forest that I have been blessed to be in for most of my life, is truly magical. I invite you in, welcome you read on these pages my beautiful memories of this place, and to share with you insights into some of my beautiful experiences…