The One Book Two Lakes tour on Saturday was a lovely celebration of nature and literature.
We met at 9:30 a.m. in Waterloo. The bus took us first to Sunfish Lake, where we enjoyed a beautiful cottage property once owned by the late Edna Staebler. Kevin Tomlinson, Edna’s neighbour for 18 years, gave a talk about Edna’s conservation efforts and the obstacles she faced in trying to protect the lake. Together with a group of neighbours, Edna worked to ban motorized vehicles and prevent industrial invasion. Her work was both gutsy and ahead of its time, especially considering the fact that, as a single woman in the 1950s, Edna wasn’t even allowed to buy her property. To get around this, she split the purchase with friends. Kevin told us about the challenges of living in such a secluded area in the winter months: Edna’s friend and neighbour, another single woman, often snow-shoed 2km out to the main road to pick up their mail and groceries. But of course there are benefits, too; at night, thousands of fireflies illuminate the bushes and trees along the path to the lake.
We then heard a reading from last year’s in-house Edna Award winner, Jeffery Donaldson. His winning piece was titled “Ghostly Conversations” and appeared in TNQ issue 117. Last year’s judge and former Edna winner Heather Birrell also did a reading from her newest short story collection, Mad Hope (Coach House Books, 2012). TNQ fiction editor Bruce Johnstone then read an excerpt from Allen Casey’s Lakeland, which was particularly poignant against backdrop of a the sparkling lake and the sound of wind lightly rustling the trees.
We got back on the bus and headed to Conestoga lake, where we had our picnic lunches and yummy dessert—cake and watermelon. Logan Walsh, a member of the Grand River Conservation Authority and TNQ’s newest board member, gave a talk about water conservation. We then had the option of sailing with the Conestoga Sailing Club, canoeing, hiking or swimming. The water was warm and conditions on the water were ideal.
On the bus ride back to Waterloo, Bruce read from Susan Scott's reflections on the stories she wrote about the Walkerton water crisis. Sharing happy memories about water helped reshape the many negative associations Walkerton citizens had developed as a result of the E. Coli contamination. We were left with a greater appreciation for the importance of water in our lives, whether it be for pleasure or utility, and for the power of story-telling. Hope to see everyone next year!