• Watermark
    Magnetawan Lake, ON - Jeffrey Langlois

My Watermark is Magnetawan Lake, Ontario.

Two years ago, I went on a five-day canoe trip with my summer camp at Magnetawan Lake. The trip consisted of canoeing over water and carrying our gear over land, and our trek covered a 120-kilometre distance. In our group of nine, we made sure to bring plenty of veggies, pasta, and packaged meat along with us. But none of those are the most important thing to pack.

Our group brought two bottles of Pristine (water purification treatment) along with us to make sure we would always have drinkable water. We can go a day without food, but a day without any water puts a tremendous toll on the human body. We put our canoes in the water and began paddling, departing the starting line of our five-day adventure.

While things went very well on the first day, we ran into a huge problem on day two. A bottle of Pristine had become contaminated, rendering it useless. While the other bottle was still safe to use, it was not be enough to sustain us for the entire trip. The problem was troubling, and we had to start brainstorming solutions.

Boiling became a necessity to provide drinkable water to all nine people. Because many of us found the earthy taste sickening, we would put Kool-Aid powder into the hot water to make Kool-Aid tea. As disgusting as that sounds, it quenched our thirst and provided us with much-needed sugar. Boiling involves starting a fire, then waiting for the water in the pot to reach boiling temperature. Compared to simply putting drops of Pristine into lake water in a pot, boiling water requires a lot of patience. To the nine exhausted and thirsty people who just went through hours of exercise, patience seemed like a luxury we could not afford. I regularly had the urge to drink directly from the lake due to thirst, but thankfully logic was always able to hold me back.

As a result, we started designating “water-boilers” during portages. One person would run a two-kilometre distance with fire-starting tools and a pot, and the other eight would do the heavy-lifting and slowly carry the gear over the same distance. That way, by the time the group arrived completely at the destination, there would be water to drink. The portages became much easier knowing that there as water to look forward to.

Once we completed the trip, I realized how precious drinkable water is. Having to boil water complicated our schedule, and made water so much more coveted among us. While the contamination of our Pristine made the trip much more difficult, it gave me a new appreciation for water.

Magnetawan Lake, ON

Algonquin Provincial Park, ON


Contributed By
Jeffrey Langlois

Collected By
Jim Chen

Watermarks are true stories about you and your connection to a body of water. By archiving your story, you add to a living record of our shared water heritage, protecting these waters for generations to come. So tell us: What is your watermark?