I am 22 years old. Demographically speaking, I am a millennial and thus most would assume that my formative years were heavily influenced by MTV, Facebook and the evolution of the cell phone.
But they would be wrong. I was - and still am - most influenced by a little cluster of 30,000 islands just north of Parry Sound, Ontario on Georgian Bay.
I had the good fortune to be born into not only a loving family, but a family that loves Georgian Bay. We have a small property between Parry Sound and Pointe au Baril and that property - as well as the surrounding islands, inlets and vast expanses of cerulean blue water - have become like an extension of my family.
It is the place I go to explore and revel in the splendor of the natural world. It’s the place I go find meaning. It’s the place that has inspired me to seek a degree in environmental management. And it’s even the reason I sought out my first co-op job with the International Joint Commission. The Bay is awe-inspiring, it’s rugged, it’s unique and it’s beautiful. I love it for the ominous, stormy days and gale force winds just as much as I love it for the flat calm of a hot summer evening.
Sometimes my friends talk about their best childhood memories; I smile at their sentimental cheer and melancholy for the good old days, but I feel certain that mine were better. Because they were on the Bay.
My childhood memories are full of adventuring: boating in 6-foot waves, swimming island to island for hours on end, getting sticky hands from climbing majestic windswept pines and squealing in the final minutes of sunset, while skinny dipping under the emerging stars.
Georgian Bay is the backdrop to all of my most meaningful memories. And I hope that that will always hold true. If I can find a way, I will get married on the pink granite bedrock with a front row view of the water. I will share my love for the rocks and the trees and the water with my future children. And I will share my love for the Bay - and all of the lakes and rivers and wetlands that sustain Georgian Bay - with this watermark story, if it means that more people will recognize their importance and commit to their protection.