Lakeland: Ballad of a Freshwater Country

Lakeland: Ballad of a Freshwater Country

Allan Casey

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 155365885X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Winner of the Governor General's award for Nonfiction

In this wry, sensual, and entertaining journey into the greatest lake country on earth, Allan Casey examines how lakes provide an open door to wilderness for average people, how our deepest relationships with nature may be forged on their shores. It is a tale of hope and threat combined, for our colonization of the lakeshore can diminish the very qualities that draw us there from the city—beauty, purity, simplicity.

Casey encounters cottagers, boat captains, marathon swimmers, Aboriginal fishery managers, hermits, and tourists. Through his sharply drawn characters, lively storytelling, and intimate evocation of wild beauty, he celebrates the rich culture and unsung splendor of lakeland. Decrying reckless development in a paradise often taken for granted, Casey tempers evangelical outrage with deep compassion. Often humorous, always thought-provoking, Lakeland should find a place in every lakeside cottage, in the corner of every tent.

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land of the living. I felt a twinge of disappointment mixed with fatigue and thirst. There was a funereal air to the place. It was already full dusk and we had many kilometres to backtrack. If the spirit of Grey Owl was about, I could not spot him. “It’s just a shell,” Marlene said where she sat on the stoop, purposefully retying her boots for the continuation of the walk. She uses this same expression to describe the human body in a spiritual context, the corporeal vessel that we occupy for a

It is nature at a price. I hope that we have not already “won” Margaret Atwood’s survival game, not yet completely beaten wilderness back with our capital and fenced it in with wrought iron. I hope that the next literary chapter we write as a country will not be called “Paradise Lost.” We risk raising the first generation of Canadian children to grow up without any particular attachment to wilderness because their families cannot afford membership. As I write these words, the country is

homes, and suicidal cross-country cyclists. The pavement closely parallels that of the voyageur fur route through the densest agglomeration of Precambrian ice-scour lakes in the country. I had pretty much made up my mind where the next lake stop would be, but around every corner I found reason to detour. Lakes and more lakes—it would take a lifetime to explore just those visible from the Ontario highway. Taking the southerly Trans-Canada route to Thunder Bay, I passed through a country more

telephone when I arrived, so I chitchatted with the receptionist about the hot weather. I was getting more comfortable speaking, or rather more comfortable with the undisguised bemusement my rusty anglophone French produced. Not too many western Canadians came out this way, it seemed. Guy emerged, delighted to see me. Then we were out the door and striding down the street toward a dépanneur to provision ourselves for the day. We bought drinks and sandwiches, and Guy got a small bag of the fresh

swimmers long. The pace had not slackened from the morning. Tobin seemed to be gaining on the champion. He was making it the closest finish in many years, and the crowd was on its feet. But in the last few metres, Stoychev put on an easy burst of speed, actually butterflying across the line to win the race a seventh straight time in 6 hours, 36 minutes, 29 seconds. Climbing out of the water, the Bulgarian looked as fresh and relaxed as when he had gone in, and was wrapped in a plush robe and

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