A summer afternoon at Georgian Bay

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Josef Čermák (CzechFolks.com PLUS)

Canada could hardly complain about being treated by nature miserly. It has been blessed with about one quarter of the world supply of the drinking water. Its size (the second largest in the world) allows it to dedicate huge chunks of land for parks. To its credit, Canada created, on a total land mass greater than all of Germany, a system of 42 national parks (the rain forest of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, The Mountains of Banf Park…), which are to preserve outstanding examples of each of Canada’s 39 natural regions.

One of the 42 national parks is named Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Georgian Bay is a bay of Lake Huron, 220 km long, 100 km wide, covering more than 15,000 sq. km. In its waters dwell and meditate about eternity tens of thousands of islands. The largest of them, Manitoulin Island, is the world’s largest island in fresh water lake. The huge majority of the islands is significantly smaller – in one area alone – if you’d care to spend the time – you’d count more than 30,000 of them – the region is not unexpectedly known as the “Thirty Thousand Islands;” in the summer you can hop on one of the several boats either in Penetanguishene or Midland and spend a couple of hours cruising – with thousands of other tourists – the island-infected waters of this lovely branch of the bay. Those waters and the shores of the bay have been for thousands of years the traditional domain of the aboriginal people. The first European who explored and mapped this region (in 1615-1616 – just a few years before the White Mountain Battle) was Samuel de Champlain, who called the bay “Le Mer douce” (klidné moře). But the bay was christened – in honor of the King George IV – by Lieutenant Henry Wolsey Bayfield of the Royal Navy.

The features most associated with Georgian Bay (mainly the islands, the Algonquin park and the shores) are the rusty granite rock foundation – the granite bedrock was exposed some 11,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, and the White Pines.. Those waters and islands, that rusty granite bedrock and the windswept Eastern White Pine, captured the eye of a group of painters who became known as a “Group of Seven.” The body of the first of them, Tom Thomson, whose renovated cabin adds drama to an art gallery located a few kilometers north of Toronto, was found floating in 1917 in Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. The other members of the group were: Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, Lawrence Harris, A.Y. Jackson, F.H. Varley, who were somehow joined by a West coast painter, Emily Carr. A number of our people fell in love with the Algonquin Park, including Sokol members Jarmila Bečka, the families of Dita and Charley Hykl and Jana and Luboš Frynta, as well as the family of the former Consul General of the Czech Republic in Toronto, Richard Krpač.

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Georgian Bay inspired along its shores the development of vacations centers such as Collingwood, Port Severn, Tobermorry, Penetanguishene, Wassaga Beach, Scenic Caves, Tyrolean Village Resorts, Midland, Blue Mountain Resort. The largest and most successful of them is without question the Blue Mountain Resort, founded by Slovak refugee, Jozo Weider. Before the Second World War, Jozo owned in Mala Fatra an internationally owned chalet named “Pod Rozsutcem.” During the war the chalet became a partisan shelter. In 1944 it was scattered to all sides by the Nazis. Jozo and his Czech wife Helen – a native of Nymburk – came to Canada in May, 1939 and in 1941 founded the Blue Mountain Resorts (in 1948 Jozo and Helen founded the Blue Mountain Pottery) and saw – before he was killed in an automobile accident – the success of his company. After his death, his wife Helen wrote a poem “The Mountain Balad,” dedicated to her husband, the man who belonged to the mountains, was born and lived in their midst his whole earthly life, and through his ashes ever after.

On the way from Toronto to Georgian Bay – halfway between Barrie and Collingwood – you will come to a magnificent proof of the Czech entrepreneurial genius, the Edenvale Aerodrome of Milan Kroupa, the place which in just a few weeks, on August 11, will host the largest show in Canada of  tens of airplanes (including the airplane which bombed Tokio) and some two hundred historic cars – and thousands of spectators from all over the place.

If you look from the Blue Mountain across the bay, you will see on the other side a small vacation resort called Palm Beach with – in the neighboring area – summer homes of quite a number of Czech people, including two members of the Toronto New Theatre, Jana Fabiánová and Dasha Hubschmanová. A few kilometers along the shore to the west, you will see a shallow round area of water, looking like a natural swimming pool, separated from the lake by a stone barrier, interrupted in several places by gaping holes. You can easily walk across this place from one side to the other. Or you can just lie down in the warm shallow water, rest your head against a boulder and start dreaming. I spent there more than one pleasant afternoon. I even wrote there a poem…

Click on image to enlarge


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Kanada si rozhodně nemůže naříkat, že se k ní příroda zachovala macešsky. Má asi čtvrtinu světové zásoby sladké vody. Poněvadž je rozsahem druhou největší zemí na světě, může si dovolit věnovat rozsáhlé plochy parkům. A tak si vytvořila, na celkové ploše větší než celé Německo, systém 42 národních parků (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, The Mountains of Banf Park…), které mají zachovat význačné rysy každé z jejích 39 přírodních oblastí. Tento systém, k němuž patří 4 mořské pobřežní oblasti, se rozlohou (skoro) rovná celému Německu.

Pokračování ZDE

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One thought on “A summer afternoon at Georgian Bay

  1. I really love your poem about Georgian Bay, Josef. I am always surprised how many people know very little about such fantastic place, even though it is beneficial for preservation of its unspoilt character.

    We’ve just returned from weekend-long vacation there and I was really surprised by numerous possibilities the national park offers also in summer (thanks to this inspiring summer guide to Georgian Bay Islands National Park. I am sure to come back again, and can highly recommend this place for unforgettable vacation.

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