Sunday, February 13, 2011

One day as an island...

By : Dennis Stein

 It is amazing to note that we live within a stone's throw from some of the most beautiful waterways on the continent. The thousand islands presents an amazing array of natural beauty, just minutes from Brockville. Each of the over 1800 islands has a story, it's granite and limestone watching the world go by long before mankind was here, watching the rebirth of the land after being carved from passing glacial ice. Native peoples refer to it as the garden of the great spirit, and have stories of a giant throwing a piece of the land into the river, where it shattered, and became the myriad of islands we see today. The city of Brockville actually owns 16 of the islands in the aptly named Brockville Narrows, and during the warmer months they become a waterborne escape to many. Campsites are available both by the season, or by the day on most of these islands.
 The St. Lawrence seaway, flowing through the islands was officially opened in 1959, at a cost of over 400 million dollars, mostly paid for by the Canadian government. It extended the reach inland for large seagoing ships, despite opposition from railroads and trucking companies. It is also blamed for severe economic downturns in several upstate New York cities.
 As part of the idea to become more active this summer, my wife and I have purchased kayaks, and took our maiden voyage in them this past weekend. We opted for the shallow areas surrounding Mallorytown landing, and paddled in the mirrorlike calm to one of the tiny islands west of the launch. Along the way we spotted a couple of very large fish, and it was amazing to me how much could be seen of the underwater world we travelled on top of...
Powerboats and sailing are fun too, but nothing will connect you to  the sights and sounds of the islands like a kayak or canoe will. Sales at several stores I visited were brisk already this season, and small vessels like kayaks seem to be becoming more popular, as people look toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation... Sitting on that tiny island to rest, I could not help but think of what that small patch of granite may have been witness to in the passing of the last millenia or two.Oblivious to time, billions of liters of water smoothing it's edges over the ages, it may have been host to species of plants and animals we have never seen and will never see again. Impacts from cannon fire may have scarred it's surface during the war of 1812..
 It is not really possible to imagine Brockville without thinking of the islands just upriver from the city, and in the early mornings especially, driving along the 1000 Islands Parkway, one must excersise care, because the calm, mirrorlike waters of the islands can be be mesmerizing. Thousands of people come to see what is in our backyard every year, and for the few of us who call the thousand islands home, it should not be something taken lightly. Enjoy the islands this year in some way, get in a kayak, attend riverfest, or watch the thousand islands Poker Run. The kids will enjoy it too, at any of our numerous parks, such as Brown's Bay, mallorytown landing, or St. Lawrence park. We enjoy a world class outdoor environment here in Brockville, As rich in history and beauty as Ontario's oldest city...

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