I grew up on an island. My dad was a park warden at Georgian Bay Islands National Park, and after being Ski-Dooed to the mainland inside my mom’s womb to be birthed in a hospital in Midland, I was brought home and raised on Beausoleil Island for the first four years of my life.
The park encompasses 30,000 islands and is home to Ontario’s only venomous snake — the massassauga rattlesnake. After working with them for nearly 15 years, my dad was bitten while tagging one before it slithered away with its family for the winter.
Turns out he is one in a million people allergic to the anti-venom given to people who have been bitten by the gorgeous reptile, and we almost lost him. Because of this incident, we packed our bags and moved out of the sticks to Ottawa. There I was exposed to my first video store! Punk friends! And central air.
Beausoleil was a great place to be a kid. In the summer we were surrounded by campers, many other wardens and the sounds of people having fun. Off-season, my sister and I hung out with ourselves, some deer, bears, porcupines and snakes. We learned how to make our own fun. Get creative, make friends with the trees (yup, we were slightly crazy) and respect the wonderful world around us.
The Toronto Islands remind me a lot of Beausoleil. But instead of campers, there are permanent residents. Instead of hiking trails there are biking roads. Instead of being constantly surrounded by screaming families, there’s the escape of Hanlan’s Point. Above all, there’s the instant serenity one feels the moment one walks off the boat. Breathing slows down, walking pace snails, attitude lifts and air becomes breathable!
It’s my favourite place in Toronto.
There’s something so satisfying about standing at any point on the islands and looking back at the skyscrapers, cranes and hustle of the waterfront and knowing that even if it’s for only a few hours, we have nothing to do with it. We can’t hear it, we can barely see it, and I sometimes pretend (with the exception of Instagram updates, obviously) that I can’t connect to it. No reception? No problem!
I wanted to dedicate an entire issue to our beloved islands because so many of us are unaware of their majesty. It’s also such a gloriously gay place that it’s time we recognized our seasonal hotspot. So pack a day bag, get down to the ferry docks, and stay till the sun goes down, without a care (or any venomous snakes) in the world.