November Storytelling Contest:
Share Your Waterway
Over the month of November, we collected tales of local waterways people call home...
...join us on a storytelling journey from east to west across Canada and beyond.
A poem by Karin Murray-Bergquist
Go to the sea for comfort, find it not —
Comfort is not the province of the waves.
The smoothing of the shrouds, the many graves
That markless lie, by name and place forgot,
In an embrace like madness, salt-entombed
And seaweed-damp across the skin. Beware
As those before you never were, and fare
Down to the sea’s cold caverns, many-roomed
As some monastic chamber. Walk the shore
A trembling line that slips and sleeks the sand
Or on the cliff-edge hovers, close at hand,
And, reaching for it, comfort seek no more.
Atlantic Ocean, Rivière des Mille-Îles, and Rivière-des-Prairies
Photography by Nadia Dalili
Water is life, and I've called many waterways home. All are connected, linked, fluid, fluctuating.
The first waterway that I call home is the Atlantic Ocean, where I lived almost 2 years in Halifax. Living by the ocean was all I wanted to do during my adult life, and the Maritimes really took my breath away. There is something special about the smell of saltwater in the air and the cold Atlantic Ocean. The ocean is where all the rivers of my childhood and adult life have led to, and it is where I definitely have felt a sense of home and connection. This photo was taken in June 2020 on a camping trip with friends a couple weeks before my return to Quebec.
The second waterway that I've connected with and that is close to me is the Rivière des Mille-Îles. It is 42 km long between the city of Saint-Eustache and Lachenaie and runs into another river that I call home, Rivière des Prairies. This picture was taken during a stand-up paddleboard ride in early November. The feeling of steadily paddling along the shore and being still with the water, and the sunset brought me peace and tranquility during this pandemic.
The last waterway that I call home is Rivière des Prairies. I should probably really call this the first waterway that I connected with because this is the place I was closest to for about 23 years of my life. Rivière des Prairies is on Montreal's north shore, and its source is from Lac des Deux-Montagnes. The water from this river eventually ends up in the St. Lawrence River after receiving water from Rivière des Mille-Îles and L'Assomption River. This photo was taken in 2016 while my best friend and I were reconnecting and walking along the shore. The sunset absolutely took our breaths away, and we realized how grateful we were to grow up near such a beautiful place.
Saint Lawrence River
A poem by Zihan Cai
Compared to something so big
And an ocean even bigger
To think that all this was so close to me, underneath my feet, it’s unbelievable
When they breathe it’s like the ocean itself breathing - so alive
Like the rumble of a volcano underneath the water
Their inhale and exhale shakes the earth
Écriture créative par Paloma DSilva
Une voie navigable près de chez moi est le fleuve Saint-Laurent qui traverse le Québec. Ce fleuve est un passage vers l'océan Atlantique, qui départ dans l'est Ontarien et continue jusqu'à l'est du Québec. Ce fleuve ajoute de la beauté à Québec et fait partie de son charme. Par exemple, en passant du temps à Lévis, on pourrait apprécier le fleuve Saint-Laurent et la vue magnifique qui se trouve à l'autre bord de la rivière. Souvent, en été, c'est attirant de passer du temps devant le fleuve de Saint-Laurent et voir tous les beaux édifices historiques à Québec.
Saint Lawrence River
A poem by Laura Newman
The water flickers back at me
And even when I’m standing still
It feels like I am moving.
There’s a constant pull I’ve gotten used to
I never gave it that much thought
But it’s like gravity.
I feel the river even when I don’t see it.
I know it’s moving slowly, inevitably
Past cities and towns, forests, farms
Getting bigger and bigger
Until it becomes ocean.
But where I am standing
The river just flows.
And it draws my thoughts with it,
Just beyond the line of sight.
Two little islands hold their ground
While the water tickles the shoreline.
Sometimes, it rages and swells.
It turns black, icy cold.
Blue, smooth like polished stone.
Then silver like mercury.
Then pink and orange under the sinking sun.
Saint Lawrence River
A video by Marilie Gosselin
Here is a video showing what helped me get through this confined summer. I went by the St-lawrence river almost everyday to connect with the water. Biking to Rocher Blanc’s beach was my favorite activity and brought so much happiness to my life during those weird times. I like to think that water is one thing that never changed with Covid-19. Still being so vast and inspiring and beautiful.
Song: Childhood - Steven Mudd
Photography by Samantha Guerard Dimitraki
People go searching far and wide for the most beautiful sunset. I simply look into my backyard. We often take for granted what we have in our home countries. This past year has given us a chance to reconnect to our grounds and learn about its beauty.
This is Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, traditional Mohawk territory. This is my home.
Photography by Clare Stone
My story focuses on the Ottawa River since I live in Ottawa, ON. While volunteering this summer I noticed a large amount of nurdles on the beach. Nurdles are plastic pellets used in the plastic production industry that are very tiny and often overlooked but can be detrimental to our ecosystems. I have previous knowledge and experience conducting microplastic surveys on local beaches in Ucluelet and Tofino,BC with the Ucluelet Aquarium as a Canadian Conservation Corps participant so this topic is very close to my heart. With the help of a WWF Canada grant I have created my own microplastics project focusing on environmental education and cleaning up the beach.
Creative writing by Jocelyn Whalen
I drive to the forest, on a busy road, and I park my car in the parking lot for the Orono Crown Lands. This is all the Mississauga’s and the Chippewas’ land. I’m finally here. I made it. I get out of my car and I walk down a long-forested path, where the trail is littered with the needles of coniferous trees; tamaracks, pines and cedars. The smell is intoxicating; it smells like burning, decay, dirt and the sweet smell of pine needles and other plants. The trees bend over the trail like fingers, welcoming me to go deeper into the woods, down the trail. I go past a glistening, beautiful farmer’s field, filled with golden hay, the sun is setting just beyond this field, over the trees, and it is breathtaking.
I go down a hill, deeper into the forest. I walk down the path some more and that is when I find it. This is Wilmot Creek, which flows through the Oak Ridges Moraine into the mouth of Lake Ontario.
I turn left onto the Orange Trail this time. I stop and talk to a few friendly people who all tell me what to look out for, but I already know they’re here.
I don’t have to walk far before I hear the first big splash of the day. Even though I know they’re here, it still startles me a bit. The tale of the salmon vigorously flips back and forth, propelling the salmon upstream. These tail flips push them through unimaginable barriers, like rocks, downed trees, and dams. Their journey is long and onerous, but it is their life’s purpose. They have come of a certain age (usually 6 or 7) where this must leave the lake that they have called home for most of their life and return to their real home; the place where they were born and where they will now rest.
It is an ethereal experience that touches everyone deeply who is blessed enough to witness it. We are so lucky to observe such an intense lifelong journey. We are observers of this life cycle but also so intrinsically intertwined into it. This water runs through our countryside like it runs through our veins. We must protect it like it’s our life blood, and the other creatures whom live in it or around it. This is our life’s purpose.
A collage by Edana Golbourne
Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong
Photography by Hannah Taylor
Hong Kong is a peninsula situated in the South China Sea in the Pacific Ocean. This is a photo of a beach called Clear Water Bay. Usually, Hong Kong is subjected to air and water pollution from factories in Shenzhen, China, resulting in the waters of this beach never being very clear. One (literal) breath of fresh air are factories being closed because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in clearer skies and clearer waters in Hong Kong.