LAND OF WHITE WATERS
SPEAK the word, Ontario, to many a loyal British Columbian, and he thinks of “back home.”
Harken to the economicsconscious agrarian of the great West on the warpath, and Ontario becomes synonymous with “selfish East.”
Go down to Atlantic’s shore and catch the real downeasterner in a confiding mood, and you’ll probably find that to him Ontario connotes Niagara Falls, automobiles and prosperity.
Catch the Ontario politician at the zenith of his rhetorical flight, and you’ll learn that Ontario is “the premier province of this great Dominion,” “the keystone of the arch of Confederation.”
Read the government guide books, and the keystone becomes Canada’s “Lakeland Playground.” Select Ontario as your birthplace, and you’ll never leave it without wanting to get back to it.
Because of “Lake-land Playground?” Yes—and no. Yes, because Ontario is a lake-land playground extraordinarily endowed by nature with all that makes outdoor playground desired of man. No, because no playground, however perfect, could explain the spell
that Ontario casts over those who own its suzerainty. Playground it is, but more than playground, for it is a land of contrasts: proud cities and untamed wilderness; cloistered halls of learning and uncouth frontier outposts; fruitful vineyards and rock-bound open spaces; a land where populous shores are washed by inland seas and mighty rivers, and land of myriad lakes where only the woodsman hears the loon’s wild cry; a land where man has waxed strong in battle with the forest and where vast forests still stand unconquered; a land whose people have grown fat on the proceeds of industry and where industry yet marches cheek by jowl with husbandry; a land where the life streams of commerce flow in measured channels and where yet the adventurer gambles all on the chance blow of the prospector’s pick.
No, he who would fathom the secrets of Ontario’s
lure cannot stand by guide books. He must of necessity take the open road and march when others tarry.
The Broad Highway
AND if it be the month of early harvest, he cannot do T*better than take the broad highway whose image beckons from the page opposite. A pretty picture, ’tis true, but a poor substitute for the actuality that awaits the wanderer. There is a road to delight the motorist of the itching accelerator-foot. Follow it westward and you’ll catch a glimpse of that Ontario whose unhurried present lies in the lap of the storied past. Oakville, mecca of the suburbanite whose ambition is a quiet garden by Lake Ontario’s blue waters; Bronte, haven of a fishing fleet that still ekes out a precarious existence on the largess of those same blue waters; Burlington Beach, now a holiday resort, once a resting place for couriers of
government—when government was at Newark across the lake from old York.
If you would hurry, leave the highroad and take the beach road that leads across the sand spit of Burlington itself. But, pause for a moment’s glimpse of Hamilton across the bay. There’s an anomaly, if you will—an industrial city whose belchings have scarce left a mark on the verdant beauty of its lake-side setting. Then on, into the Garden of Canada, the far-famed fruitlands of Niagara. Stoney Creek, where a monument marks the site of a battle between American and Canadian before the century of peace. On still farther through orchards of cherry and peach, through vineyards heavy with the promise of abundant harvest. St. Catharines, nexus of the fruit belt and then, the mighty Niagara. Climb the heights at Queenston —another battle site—and you will gaze out over a vista of lake and river and woodland and meticulously cultivated vineyard, such as can be seen nowhere else in Canada. Then, but a mile or two farther and you may peer into that 300-foot chasm through which the waters of well-nigh a third
of a continent boil, in torment. Still but a few miles farther and the roar of the rapids gives place to another and more majestic sound of plunging waters—the voice of Niagara’s cataract.
Then if nature palls, search out the upper river and see how Canadian engineers forced a river to run backward on its course in order that the force of Niagara itself might be twice multiplied. Follow their canal to the Chippawa power house where gigantic generators take toll of the tumbling torrent in 550,000 horsepower of electrical energy. You do not need to be an engineer to sense the fact that this is the seat of awful forces. Now, let the mind’s eye follow out along the amazingly tenuous strands of copper that guide this power to where it answers the bidding of a million and more Canadians—some of them 250 miles distant. Remember that fifteen, twelve, ten decades since, all this -—purpled vineyards, throbbing cities, engineers’ achievement and all that goes with them—was but a forest wilderness and you may guess some, at least, of the secrets of Ontario’s hold over its people.
Where Wilderness Calls
' I 'HUS the open road but there is much ahead of us.
We have explored but a thumbprint on the map of Ontario and there remain four hundred thousand square miles to delve in. He who only Niagara knows does not know Ontario.
Westward along Lake Erie’s brim and northward to the shores of Georgian Bay lies the Ontario of pastoral acres. Here, where the Southern Highway marches across the conquests of Royalist pioneers toward Huron’s outlet, here is the Ontario of pleasant pasturelands, of placid streams, of sequestered vales and rolling grain fields. Here Tecumseh fought and fell for the King across the water. Here was cradled a pioneer stock that endured long and builded solidly. And here are other cities to greet the wanderer: St. Thomas, Windsor, Brantford,
Kitchener, Guelph, Stratford—their names betray the homehunger of their Anglo-Saxon founders.
And then on to Sarnia, a city to whose citizens the curious pointing fingers sprung from salt and oil wells are but a commonplace. Here the wayfarer may set wheel or foot on the Blue Water Highway to follow its sweeping curves northward by the shore of that inland fresh-water sea which the Indian christened Huron. Sloping beach and weathered sand cliff for mile on mile and then half circle eastward to meet the southern bow of Georgian Bay.
Georgian Bay—lake of 30,000 islands—another Ontario this. Left behind are the stately elms, the broad highway, the farmland vistas, the pulsing cities. Instead, the lonely pine, rugged promontories, rocky islands shimmering green on a bosom of blue waters, the romance of the wild. But not yet the true wilderness. Here the slothful wanderer can find respite from journeying in sheltering hostelries or snug cottages which are in the wild but not of the wild. Civilization’s comforts still await the traveler who embarks at Penetanguishene or Midland to search out the beauties of Honey Harbor or Gloucester Pool.
But, for those of more adventurous spirit, there is wild enough beyond. For this is the canoeist’s paradise, this island-studded bay and its rough, unruly tributaries. And he who has not dipped paddle in the Muskosh, the Moon, the Magnetawan, the French, he who has not thrilled to the surge of their white waters and watched the campfire’s flickering shadows flit across their still reaches has yet to learn Ontario.
And still the open road. Inland, eastward,
southward, lie still other highways for the pleasure-seeker. Back to Penetanguishene and the storied land that lies behind it. Here roamed the once powerful Huron before his nation melted into oblivion before the onslaughts of the furious Iroquois. That cross by Pinery Point across the bay from Penetanguishene’s modern sawmills marks the site of Outouacha. There, more chan three centuries gone, Champlain set the first white man’s foot on the soil of southern Ontario. By these shores le Caron, grayrobed Recollet, sought to tame the heathen while yet the first James ruled England. By those hills which crest
the skyline, Jesuit friars chose the way of martyrdom. ín this harbor Britisher and American sank and was sunk in 1812. From this port Sir John Franklin set out to find the North-West Passage. Yonder but a few miles is the ruin of old fort Sainte Marie. Vauban, builder of Verdun’s citadel, designed it—and it moulders into dust.
This is the land of legend where Indian was dispossessed by white man. If you would hear him still protesting, persuade some launch captain to take you out to the Christian Islands, refuge of the Ojibways.
“We are not the Hurons,” they will tell you. “Iroquois drive out the Hurons. Ojibways drive out Iroquois. This land b’long Ojibway. White man take and he no pay.” curious story, but, literally speaking, these modern Redmen claim title to, and compensation for, all of old Huronia—parts of Grey, York and Ontario counties, all of Simcoe county and the two great districts of Parry Sound and Muskoka.
Muskoka! There’s a music-making word to stir the wanderer’s imagination. Back to the highroad, east to where Orillia crowns the hillside by Couchiching’s shore—lake of many winds, the Redman named it—and then north across the Severn to the highlands of old Ontario. Muskoka— land of clear skies. Here is that ideal outdoor playground described by guide-book word-painter. Sophisticated playground where nature and fashion meet. Here is another Ontario a-summeringin rustic palaces and modest bungalows. Topaz lakes and emerald islands, skies of clearest blue, pine-scented breezes—futile words which but suggest the picture.
A Lake-land Playground
npHUS the open road and still it calls. Over the highlands where a twin playground to Muskoka nestles by the many-lobed Lake of Bays. Then on still farther where steel rails carry the wanderer up the western slope of the Laurentians into the wonderland sanctuary of Algonquin. Here the ageless granite has been potted and scoured so that nature might tumble 1,500 lakes into 3,000 square miles. There they lie, 1,500 gems of unspoiled loveliness, set in a network of rock-bound streams and rivers. No sophisticated playground this, for here the society-lover has found no more than foothold. This is the Ontario that calls to stout heart and steady hand. Let no weakling attempt its measure.
Then southward ho! Leave the land of forest and white water and again the open road. Back past Couchiching’s shore to the land of other towns and cities. Orillia again; Barrie; other hills and other valleys; past Lake Simcoe’s inviting coolness till the rolling downs of York demand pause by the wayside. Theirs is the beauty of soft greens, of close-clipped fields and well-kept homesteads. Theirs again the story of pioneer hardihood. Land of peace, to-day but it was here that the rebels of ’37 found strength with which to smash the Family Compact, oligarchy of a backwoods colony.
Southward but a little way and then —Toronto, metropolis of the province, second city of the Dominion and twelfth on the continent. City of parks, city of homes, city of churches, Queen City, thus do her people fondly name her. And with reason, for, bundle of paradoxes and anachronisms that she is, Toronto is a city fair to look upon. It may be her main business thoroughfare is the ugliest in the world, but judge her not by Yonge Street for if you do you will not judge Toronto.
And before you pronounce a verdict listen-to the stranger who sought her out in the wilderness but ninety years ago:
“What Toronto may be in summer, I cannot tell, they say it is a pretty place. At present its appearance to me, a stranger, is most strangely mean and melancholy. A little, ill-built town, on low land at the bottom of a frozen bay with one very ugly church, without tower or steeple; some government offices, built of staring red brick, in the most tasteless, vulgar style imaginable; three feet of snow all around, and the gray, sullen wintry lake, and the dark gloom of the pine forest bounding the prospect—such seems Toronto to me now.”
Thus, Mrs. Jameson, one of the first Canadian writers, after landing ankledeep in mud at the capital of her adopted province. Remember her words as you search out the city of to-day, as you pass a thousand factories, gaze on towering buildings and spy out pleasant places; recall her “tasteless, vulgar” as you stand before the architectural beauties of a university grown old and cultured beyond its years; remember that she spoke but ninety years ago and you may understand¡ still another secret of the spell which Ontario casts over those who own its suzerainty.
By Lake Ontario’s Shore
F'ULL circle have we come and now our way lies eastward.
Through other trim lakeside counties the road runs on and on—old Port Hope, Belleville, by the Moira; historic Adolphustown. Were there leisure the wayfarer could linger here and steep himself in the lore of Ontario’s “pilgrim fathers.” It was to Adolphustown that in 1774 a certain Captain Vanalstine brought the first flotilla of loyalist exiles—“King George’s men” they were—from the “rebel” state of New Y'ork. Here along the shores of Quinte Bay and still further east by the St. Lawrence was cradled British dominion in Ontario. Belleville once boasted of possessing the first and only brick house in the province and hard by the turnpike where it enters the city still stands the old stone dwelling in which Brock, hero of Queenston, found shelter as he hurried to his last battle.
This land, too, has its hinterland playground. Northward lie the Kawartha Lakes—“Bright Waters in Happy Lands” the Redman aptly named them. Haliburton, too, with its wilderness hunting ground awaits the angle and the sportsman, but the open road still lies before us. Eastward again, to Kingston, limestone city, city of quaint towers and historic memory—site of old Fort Frontenac, the Frenchman’s wilderness outpost of 1673. Yet on, still farther, by the broad flood of the St. Lawrence; Gananoque, gateway to the Thousand Islands;
I Brockville; Prescott, and then the rapid’s maelstrom—Galops, Des Plats, Long Sault they call them. Here again the land of rushing waters. Only Niagara’s whirlpool can match the Long Sault’s mad surging. Would you thrill to its wild defiance? Step to the deck of river steamer and you will shudder at man’s temerity, for the curling foam tosses bark and cargo as the breezes toss a feather.
Now the way lies northward to that rock-edged shelf of greenery where the towers of parliament keep watch over Ottawa’s brown waters. Old Bytown this and the modern nation’s capital. Let no wayfarer hasten here, for Ottawa, the picturesque, well rewards a wanderer’s tarrying. Here Gothic points soar skyward and here castellated piles frown over square and housetop. Here are quiet bypaths, and vaulted halls whence issue a Dominion’s edicts.
The Pioneers’ Northland
THUS the open road and still it beckons. Southward in the valley of the Rideau lies yet another lake-land playground, but our way runs north and westward by the Ottawa’s upper reaches to the junction of the Mattawa. Over the height of land where voyageurs adventured, down into Nipissing’s basin to North Bay, gateway to a northland treasure house. Here the miner and the lumberman swap yarns of sudden wealth and forest conquest; of the gold at Kirkland Lake and of Cobalt’s silver riches. Then on to Sudbury, where smelters spew a blight on nature. Here the nickle mines whence comes the one essential for the armor plate of navies. More lake and rough rock scenery, west past the Indians’ island of the Manitou, to an-
other site of industries—Sault. St. Marie, city of steel blast furnaces, and gateway to Algoma. Here, through channels cut by man and nature from Superior to Huron, flows a lake-borne commerce greater by half than the combined tonnage of Panama and Suez.
And here the end of the open road, for beyond, only steel and steam have ventured. And yet still other playgrounds entice the traveler: Nipigon, mecca of the angler and canoeist; Lake of the Woods, Minaki, Timagami—all have their allurements. And still the wild; Wahnapitae, Aiginawassi, Nagagami, Obabika, Abitibi, Ogoki and Mattagami —there be names to whet the wanderlust. They spell the new Ontario of a thousand virgin lakes and rivers far from the measured round of the civilized. A hard land of vast dimensions whose wealth is yet unguessed and whose people are fit heirs to the pioneer traditions of yesterday’s Ontario.
So, north and south, east and west, the open road awaits. If you feel the urge to travel and would see the land of rushing waters, take it, for that way lies Ontario.