Georgian Bay: Paradise of 30,000 Islands
As you drive up Highway 69 to Parry Sound in Ontario, there is a feeling of leaving behind the pressures of modern life. You have begun to enter the world of endless forests, rugged rock formation and magnificent cuts through the Canadian shield as it creeps north to Georgian Bay.
The use of the word bay gives a picture of smallness, of a little enclave of cottages on a major lake but in the style of Canada, Georgian Bay is huge.
Crowded on its shore are over 30,00 islands creating stunning views from either the huge tourist passenger cruise boat or the small cottage craft that dash into small openings and spring out the other side like angry sea snakes.
It is truly beautiful and gives an instant sense of the huge wilderness that begins here and stretches to the arctic.
Wyandot legend tells of a god called Kitchikewana, who was large enough to guard the whole of the Georgian Bay. Kitchikewana was known for his great temper, and his tribe decided the best way to calm him was with a wife. They held a grand celebration, and many women came. Kitchikewana met a woman named Wanakita here. He decided that this was the woman he wanted to marry, and started planning the wedding immediately after she left. But when she was invited back, she told Kitchikewana that she was already engaged. Enraged, Kitchikewana destroyed all the decorations, running to one end of Beausoleil Island and grabbing a large ball of earth. Running to the other end, he tossed it into the Great Lakes. Thus, the 30,000 Islands were created. The indentations left behind by his fingers form the five bays of Georgian Bay: Midland Bay, Penetang Bay, Hog Bay, Sturgeon Bay, and Matchedash Bay. He then lay down to sleep and sleeps there still as Giant's Tomb Island.
The town of Penetanguishene now has a large statue of Kitchikewana on its main street. There is a YMCA summer camp for youth located on Beausoleil Island, in southern Georgian Bay, named after Kitchikewana. YMCA Camp Kitchikewana, or Kitchi for short, has been located in Georgian Bay Islands National Park since 1919. Originally operated by the Midland YMCA, it is now the residential camp for youth from the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka.
One of Canada's national treasures, Georgian Bay Islands National Park offers a 14 square kilometres of the rugged beauty of the Canadian shield.
As many visitors say, Georgian bay is a land of infinite dreams so take time and enjoy the calm and serenity of this nature paradise. Find a bench and just let your dreams go wild.
More on Travel: