by Leslie Anthony
This… is the near-north world for 12,000,000 people, a place that holds no shortage of literal touchstones: Canadian Shield, Precambrian era, granite and gneiss, figured on diagrams yanked down on rollers at the front of every classroom in the Great White North, 8,000,000 km2 ringing Hudson Bay from the Northwest Territories to Labrador, bedrock with a personality, blushing the same feldspar-pink as those old maps of Canada. Only here it’s a school of eternally breaching rosé whales, marching scattershot toward the thunder of breaking waves, eventually to disappear on the horizon at the very edge of the world, a water body that shows the curvature of the earth, whose generations of residents and cottagers and travelers consider it a Great Lake unto itself. This is a famous dreamy song and a living museum, a 410-year-long diorama of Brûlé, Champlain, Brébeuf, Nicolet, Vérendrye, MacKenzie and others, a land of canoes and kayaks and sailboats and swimming. This is a landscape so untamable that the rarest plants and snakes and turtles and fishes and birds in all of Ontario still find foothold here, a place of romance, unbridled wildness, preternatural beauty, majesty incarnate and a thousand splendid sunsets. This… is Georgian Bay.