Memories of Canada

In September of 1973, I joined a group of friends for a canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario, Canada.  That was my first excursion to a wilderness area and my first trip to any region not on my family's limited vacation list (Lake Erie, the Smokies and the Gulf Coast of Florida).  After a week touring remote streams and lakes in the Park, a friend (see George) and I returned to Cincinnati via a long, scenic route, following the northern coast of Lake Huron, the southern coast of Lake Superior and the western coast of Lake Michigan.  En route, I was exposed to a spectacular diversity of landscape and wildlife and there is no doubt that the entire experience played a significant role in my development as a naturalist.

So too did our stop in Sudbury, where nickel mining had created a moonscape amidst the forests and lakes of Canada; never before had I encountered man's impact on natural ecosystems in such a striking and unsettling manner.  To this day, though the city has been recognized by conservation organizations for its effort to reclaim the landscape, that image of Sudbury comes to mind whenever the subject of human-induced habitat destruction is raised.

Indeed, a commitment to conservation generally arises from positive and negative experiences in our lives.  The exposure to pristine wilderness and scenic landscapes prompts our desire to protect those areas while the sight of polluted rivers, clear-cut forests and industrial carnage fuel our support for environmental regulations.  My trip to Canada, at the age of 23, did both.