Georgian Bay is the northeastern arm of Lake Huron, the fifth-largest lake in the world. Located between Manitoulin Island to the northwest (the world’s largest freshwater island) and the Bruce Peninsula to the southwest, it is geographically distinct from Lake Huron. Sudbury-born photographer Mike Grandmaison lived in the Georgian Bay region for 25 years. Camera in hand, he has explored the region by foot, canoe, and kayak. Whether he is framing a chunk of glacier-scraped pink granite or water shimmering in the summer sun, Grandmaison pinpoints the beauty and wonder of the Bay.
To effectively explore the many faces and moods of the Bay, I hired guides to show me the area by boat. At the far end of this vein-riddled granite landscape of Phillip Edward Island stands my guide as the warm last light bathes the weathered rocks.
The French River was the first to be designated a Canadian Heritage River. From prehistory until the 18th century it was the most important interior travel route for Aboriginal Peoples, fur traders and voyageurs. The French runs 105 kilometres from its headwaters at Lake Nipissing to its rocky delta in Georgian Bay at French River Provincial Park. Here, morning light bathes the pines and lichen-covered rock. The pitted surface and scattered lichens exhibit the combined effects of chemical corrosion (weathering) of the rock and pounding of wave-borne pebbles during stormy weather.
The Key River is one of many that empty into Georgian Bay. During our travels down the river with friends and guides Estelle and Richard Lapointe, we spotted this rock face on the north side. The water trickling down the cliffs from recent rains created patterns of constantly changing colour and shape as the boat slowly drifted. I framed a few sharp compositions of these water-stained cliffs using the equivalent of a 105mm short telephoto lens aided by the vibration-reduction technology of my camera, a godsend for photographing hand-held on water.
During a second day of being guided by Killarney Lodge Outfitters, I captured this image while exploring the islands off Killarney Provincial Park with colleague and friend Don Johnston. This shot showcases the smooth, rounded rocks at the south end of Phillip Edward Island.
While driving to Manitoulin Island one early morning on my way to the Peninsula, I passed by McGregor Bay, just south of Whitefish Falls. Just minutes before the sun rose above the horizon behind a small island of pines, the clouds were ablaze with colour that reflected exquisitely. I stopped the vehicle and hastily setup a symmetrical composition to accentuate the peaceful and solitary mood.
I arrived at Dyers Bay before sunrise, the air filled with fog and a light rain. Fifteen minutes elapsed while I waited for the weather to change until I decided to saunter outside and explore. I ventured along the shoreline, walking over broken dolostone. In the distance, sunlight began to break through the heavy cloud and fog. As time went on, the light grew stronger, creating an otherworldly scene—a triangular shaft of light emerging from heavy cloud. I searched for an interesting foreground and found a large, dark slab of dolostone submerged in the Bay that created an anchor for the inverted triangle of light.
The northern and eastern areas of the Bay are dominated by the Canadian Shield, Precambrian granitic bedrock that was exposed some 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. As you continue in a clockwise fashion around the Bay you encounter a much flatter landscape on the south end where the hard, ancient Shield gives way to a much newer and softer limestone/dolostone Niagara Escarpment. Here the flat shales of the Lindsay Formation are exposed along the shore of Craigleith Provincial Park where you can view 445-million-year-old fossils
Killarney Provincial Park is considered the crown jewel of the Ontario park system and is a popular wilderness area renowned for canoeing, and hiking trails on quartzite ridges. One of my favourite trails in the park is the Chikanishing Trail, an easy three-kilometre loop that leads to Collins Inlet where it meets the Chikanishing River. The beautiful pink granite at one’s feet is that of the Killarney Batholith, a mass of molten rock that solidified deep within the earth, almost one and a half billion years ago.