My Canada, 7/150: The Great Lakes, sunset at Port Franks

I grew up, and spent a good chunk of my adult life, in the peninsula-shaped dangle of Ontario surrounded by three of the five Great Lakes: Huron to the northwest, Erie to the southeast, and Lake Ontario connected east of that. “Going to the Lake” meant trips to a neighbour’s cottage or even a day trip to a public beach. As a child, “the Lake” was always Huron; it was only when I lived in London, Ontario for many years that I discovered the gentler, sunrise-friendly charms of the more shallow Lake Erie.

Many of Ontario’s cities grew up along these lakes’ shores: Canada’s largest city of Toronto, along with Hamilton and Kingston, are all on Lake Ontario. For whatever reason, the settlements along Erie and Huron have remained smaller, still villages or towns that have local industry, such as salt mining in Goderich or commercial fishery in Port Stanley, along with amenities for tourists and vacationers.

Along Lake Huron, the shoreline has vacillated between receding and advancing, keeping property owners in a dance with nature, either building breakwalls along their shore or finding themselves at an unwelcome distance from the water’s new edge. While wind can whip up waves, on a calm day, the waves are gentle and people can walk for hundreds of yards before the water gets deep enough that you no longer can keep your feet on the bottom while your head is out of the water.

This photo is taken many years ago at Port Franks, along Lake Huron. Port Franks is not as well known as the nearby beach towns of Grand Bend and Bayfield, and therefore is usually not as crowded. This day, we went with a neighbour from London ON; he had volunteered to host two young men from a travelling choir that needed free accommodations for their members while on tour, and he suggested we all take a picnic to the lake.

The two choristers were glad to have some beach time. They were surprised and delighted by the shallow entry into the lake; they goofed around, flipping a Frisbee back and forth. We were back on the beach, watching them, as the sunset began. Lake Huron is known for its spectacular orange sunsets. I’m grateful to have witnessed this one, and to have this image which, to me, is about as joyous as it gets.

Photo: John Lederman

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