Thursday, August 23, 2007


Sometimes, escapism hits me and I hop into the car --still, even though I live in "cottage country" -- and drive to beautiful places like the lakes in the Bancroft area of Ontario. In my mind, of course, there are all the associations the landscape has for me with my childhood memories. Many Finns live throughout the Canadian Shield geographical region of northern Ontario and report that it reminds them of "home". The lakes, the birch and pines, the rocky shores certainly evoke Finland for me too, even though I actually lived in Finland for only three years.
It was to the lakes of northern Ontario that many of our ex-pat Finnish friends migrated to build saunas first, then cottages or even year-round homes.
In the summer, we escaped the suburbs of Toronto, making many trips in the old Valiant to go camping near these lakes as a family. Loaded down with a huge and heavy canvas house-tent, sleeping bags my mother lined with sewn-in quilts, and enough food for a small army, the car sagged dangerously. I remember enduring the long car-ride, trying to ignore pesky brothers and an irritating sister, trying to drop into my fantasies by watching the landscape go by as we drove north.
Most often, we spent a weekend at some of Ontario's many provincial parks. Other times, we visited friends. And most memorably, we went camping with another family at Algonquin Park. Naturally, we always tried to get near the water for lots of swimming and canoing.
And it wasn't camping if there was not woodsmoke somehow, from the stove in a friend's sauna, or from our campfire in the evening. We just had not been camping if we didn't come home with every article of clothing smelling gloriously of woodsmoke and insect repellent.

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Anonymous marja-leena said...

Kati - that's my childhood too, except in Manitoba! Sauna and a nearby river for a swim - the best. There were many Finnish families with cottages in this one favourite place that made many happy memories, a place that looks like your photos!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

Ah, Marja-Leena, is there anything as good as jumping into the cool water of a lake or river after a blast of heat in the sauna?

10:26 AM  
Blogger Randa said...

That was beautiful. We certainly live in a glorious province. The things daydreams are made of! Beautiful photos, Kati.

1:23 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Hi Kati,

These photographs are gorgeous. Your post sent me back to the days when my family would go camping ... five kids and two parents packed into a car. Sitting in the middle spot of the back seat was particularly tortuous. I loved camping when I was younger ... it was always an adventure, although we usually drove west or south. Northern Saskatchewan is much like northern Ontario ... the lakes are spectacular and cold!!

I used to love the smell of woodsmoke that lingered in my outdoor clothes for days and days.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

randa, there is a particular poignancy to the daydreams our rugged lakes evoke, isn't there?

kate, remarkable the similarities in our backgrounds: five kids, two parents, even the torture of the middle spot in the back seat!! My youngest brother was so lucky: he always got to sit in the front with our mom.

12:43 PM  

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