Family and Flow: Reflections on Canada Water Week

Tim’s blog post got me thinking about how I came to work on water issues. And Canada Water Week seems like a good time for some reflection.

I’ve been around water, and people that loved water, my whole life.

It started with my parents.

My dad spent the first 12 years of his life on the coast in Nova Scotia, and many of the stories my aunt and grandma told me were about the ocean. My dad has had a love for boats ever since I can remember, probably from his own exposure to the sea.

My mom’s parents lived on the shores of Georgian Bay for two generations in the same big old white house. We used to trudge through the bush at the back of their house to explore the rocky shore. The “bay” was a big part of life in my mom’s family – most of the stories my grandpa and uncles’ told at family gatherings took place on or beside the water.

Apparently this exposure has made its mark, because I now spend my days studying the different ways we can protect lakes and rivers in Canada.

Sometimes I feel like I was born with a passion for water – like it’s in my blood.

My weekends as a kid were spent on a lake in Port Severn, Ontario, later in Victoria Harbour and occasionally on Georgian Bay. I worked an hour a day for three years at my father’s land surveying practice to buy a small motor boat when I was 12 years old.

That boat, and being on the water, was what I lived for every summer.

(Until the motor died…and we bought another boat that was first stolen and then sunk in the middle of the lake…and then its replacement caught on fire the following summer…but that’s another story.)

But I’ve known ever since my second year of university that this is what I wanted to do. I just can’t imagine not being able swim in the lakes because they are too polluted, too full of algae or the water level has dropped too low. So I feel driven to do what I can to keep the lakes I love an inviting place to play.

Now that I have a child, I find myself trying to share my love of water with my son.

As he gets older, I also want him to know that, there is a something each of us who has a connection with water can do to make the lakes a place of refuge, respite and enjoyment.


I believe that our water future is in more hands than those of the policy makers.

The many builders, plumbers, architects, fishermen, real estate agents, engineers, well and septic system installers and inspectors, developers, entrepreneurs, educators and every other person that interacts with water systems or users have something to offer. People in these careers that share a love for water and a willingness to do things differently will be critical to sustaining the magnificence of our lakes, rivers and oceans.


So why are you interested in water? And how has your interest in water inspired you to do things differently?

We would love to hear your thoughts posted in the comments.

Pieces of this post were excerpted from an essay written for the “The Song My Paddle Sings” project led by Dr. Sarah Wolfe at the University of Waterloo.

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One Response to “Family and Flow: Reflections on Canada Water Week”

  1. Lindsay Telfer March 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Hey Carol. Great reflections. Having grown up in S.W ON myself, I relate to many of your experiences. I am now living in a community with a fantastic lake that is active throughout the seasons. It has an active fishing industry – mostly based on sustenance it seems – not commercial. Though I am new to the community (Barrie ON) so I could be wrong there. I just love living this close to water and can’t wait for the summer months when I can take Aria down and play on the beach…and swim in the water! I would be devastated (as would so many others) if pollution kept us from doing so. Especially when it’s so avoidable! Thanks for the post!

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