In October of the year I was born in a small town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Hurricane Hazel tore through Toronto with the force of a 110 kilometre wind and over 280 millimetres of rain. Bridges and streets were washed out, homes and trailers were washed into Lake Ontario. Thousands were left homeless, and 81 people were killed—more than 30 on one street alone. Hurricane Hazel had been projected to dissipate; but instead, it re-intensified unexpectedly and rapidly.
In the wake of Hazel, Islington Golf Course and low-lying areas near Mimico Creek were flooded. The mural on the left, which adorns a building in Islington village, depicts a volunteer clean-up crew arriving at the scene as a member of the Islington Fire Brigade helps moor their boat. Behind them, members of the 48th Highlanders clear away the debris. An army supply helicopter hovers above, preparing to use the 9th fairway, then high ground, as a landing strip.
A more organized and respectful approach to water established as flood control and water management procedures were coordinated to protect life and property from natural hazards such as flooding and water conservation, including erosion control. Regulations also restricted new development in floodplains, allowing rivers to flow naturally and reducing the risk to people and property resulting from natural flooding.
The province of Ontario continues to develop source protection plans for each watershed. This includes managing Ontario’s rivers and other water courses on a watershed basis because everything is interconnected ecologically.
Conservation authorities are the only watershed management agencies in Ontario that are organized on a watershed basis.
Since Hazel, the role of conservation authorities (like the TRCA, Credit Valley CA) has grown to include the protection, management and restoration of Ontario’s waters, woodlands, wetlands and natural habitat. Conservation Authorities also develop programs that will protect life and property from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion. And they deliver environmental education to the public to ensure our environment is protected for future generations.
Sixty some years after Hazel struck, I launched my book about water, Water Is…, at the Islington Golf Course, just fifty paces or so from the mural depicting Mimico’s flood. The golf course overlooked a much calmer Mimico Creek that day in June 2016.
The launch—attended by dignitaries such as Mississauga councilor Jim Tovey, environmental organizations, Conservations Authorities, artists and writers—began on the shores of Mimico Creek with a blessing of Mimico’s waters—and all waters.
The blessing was given by First Nations knowledge keeper Nancy Rowe, who spoke of how the creek used to be drinkable and how water connects everything and reflects all things. Highly respected Canadian literary author Margaret Atwood echoed Nancy’s words when she recommended Water Is… to readers in the NY Times’s “The Year in Reading.” Atwood said quite simply: “We can’t live without it, so maybe we should start respecting it.”
In the first chapter of my book Water Is… I write:
“Ultimately, water and our relationship with it is a curious gestalt of magic and paradox. Like the Suntelia Aion described by the Greeks, water cuts recursive patterns of creative destruction through the landscape, an ouroboros remembering. It changes, yet stays the same, shifting its face with the climate. It wanders the earth like a gypsy, stealing from where it is needed and giving whimsically where it isn’t wanted; aggressive yet yielding. Life-giving yet dangerous. Water is the well-spring of life. Yet, it is the River Styx that leads the dead to Hades…Water is a shape shifter.”
I’ve been blessed lately; I house and pet sit and two of my clients live right off Mimico
Creek in Islington Village. When I’m sitting their two cats, I take daily walks along the creek and wander the village of over 20 historical murals depicting another time. I have witnessed Mimico Creek shift from a gentle calm creek into a boiling mass of “angry” turbulence with one rainfall.
Water is our life-blood and our ultimate friend. But we must respect and love water; like all things on this blessed Earth.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
Water Is… is currently an Amazon Bestseller in several categories. It was recommended by Margaret Atwood in The New York Times in ‘The Year in Reading’ as a “beautifully designed book by a limnologist [that] looks at water from 12 different angles, from life and motion and vibration to beauty and Prayer.”
List of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities:
AUSABLE BAYFIELD CONSERVATION AUTHORITY 71108 Morrison Line, RR # 3, Exeter, ON, NOM 1S5 1-888-286-2610 or (519) 235-2610 FAX (519) 235-1963 E-mail: email@example.com
CATARAQUI REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY Box 160, 1641 Perth Road, Glenburnie, ON K0H 1S0; (613) 546-4228 FAX (613) 547-6474; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CATFISH CREEK CONSERVATION AUTHORITY R. #5, Aylmer, ON N5H 2R4; (519) 773-9037 FAX (519) 765-1489; E-mail: email@example.com
CENTRAL LAKE ONTARIO CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 100 Whiting Avenue, Oshawa, ON L1H 3T3; (905) 579-0411 FAX: (905) 579-0994; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSERVATION HALTON; 2596 Britannia Road West, R. R. 2, Milton, ON L9T 2X6; (905) 336-1158 FAX (905) 336-7014; E-mail: email@example.com
CREDIT VALLEY CONSERVATION; 1255 Old Derry Road, Mississauga, ON L5N 6R4; 1-800-668-5557 or (905) 670-1615 FAX: (905) 670-2210; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CROWE VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 70 Hughes Lane, Box 416, Marmora, ON K0K 2M0; 613) 472-3137 FAX (613) 472-5516; E-mail: mailto:email@example.com
ESSEX REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 60 Fairview Avnue West, Essex, ON N8M 1Y6; (519) 776-5209 FAX (519) 776-8688; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GANARASKA REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; P.O. Box 328, Port Hope, ON L1A 3W4; (905) 885-8173 FAX (905) 885-9824; E-mail: mailto:email@example.com
GRAND RIVER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 400 Clyde Road, Box 729, Cambridge, ON N1R 5W6; (519) 621-2761 FAX (519) 621-4844; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GREY SAUBLE CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; R. 4, OWEN SOUND, ON N4K 5N6; (519) 376-3076 FAX (519) 371-0437; E-mail: email@example.com
HAMILTON CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 838 Mineral Springs Rd. Box 7099, Ancaster, ON L9G 3L3; 1-888-319-4722 or (905) 525-2181 FAX (905) 648-4622; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
KAWARTHA CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 277 Kenrei Park Road, R. R. #1, Lindsay, ON K9V 4R1; (705) 328-2271 FAX (705) 328-2286; E-mail: email@example.com
KETTLE CREEK CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 44015 Ferguson Line, R. R. 8, St. Thomas, ON N5P 3T3; (519) 631-1270 FAX (519) 631-5026; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
LAKEHEAD REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 10427, 130 Conservation Rd., Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6T8; (807) 344-5857 FAX (807) 345-9156; E-mail: email@example.com
LAKE SIMCOE REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 282, 120 Bayview Parkway, Newmarket, ON L3Y 4X1; (905) 895-1281 FAX (905) 853-5881; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
LONG POINT REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; R. 3, Simcoe, ON N3Y 4K2; (519) 428-4623 FAX (519) 428-1520; E-mail: email@example.com
LOWER THAMES VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 100 Thames Street Chatham, ON N7L 2Y8; (519) 354-7310 FAX (519) 352-3435; E-mail: ltvca@MNSi.net
LOWER TRENT CONSERVATION; 441 Front Street, Trenton, ON K8V 6C1; (613) 394-4829 FAX (613) 394-5226; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MAITLAND VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 127, 93 Marietta Street, Wroxeter, ON N0G 2X0; (519) 335-3557 FAX (519) 335-3516; E-mail: email@example.com
MATTAGAMI REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 100 Lakeshore Road, Timmins, ON P4N 8R5; (705) 360-1382 FAX (705) 360-1334; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 268, Lanark, ON K0G 1K0; (613) 259-2421 FAX (613) 259-3468; E-mail: email@example.com
NIAGARA PENINSULA CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 250 Thorold Road West, 3rd Floor, Welland, ON L3C 3W2; (905) 788-3135 FAX (905) 788-1121; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NICKEL DISTRICT CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Tom Davies Square, 200 Brady Street, Sudbury, ON P3E 5K3; (705) 674-5249 FAX (705) 674-7939; E-mail: email@example.com
NORTH BAY-MATTAWA CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 15 Janey Avenue, North Bay, ON P1C 1N1; (705) 474-5420 FAX (705) 474-9793; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTTAWASAGA VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 8195 8th Line, Utopia, ON L0M 1T0; (705) 424-1479 FAX (705) 424-2115; E-mail: email@example.com
OTONABEE CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 250 Milroy Drive, Peterborough, ON K9H 7M9; (705) 745-5791 FAX (705) 745-7488; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUINTE CONSERVATION; (Moira River, Napanee Region and Prince Edward Region Conservation Authorities); RR#2 2061 Old Highway #2, Belleville, Ontario K8N 4Z2; (613) 968-3434 FAX (613) 968-8240; E-mail: email@example.com
RAISIN REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; P.O. Box 429, 18045 County Road 2, Cornwall, ON K6H 5T2; (613) 938-3611 FAX (613) 938-3221; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
RIDEAU VALLEY CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 599, 1128 Mill Street, Manotick, ON K4M 1A5; (613) 692-3571 FAX (613) 692-0831; E-mail: email@example.com
SAUGEEN CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; R. #1, Hanover, ON N4N 3B8; (519) 364-1255 FAX (519) 364-6990; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAULT STE MARIE REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 1100 Fifth Line East, R. R. #2, Sault Ste Marie, ON P6A 5K7; (705) 946-8530 FAX (705) 946-8533; E-mail: email@example.com
SOUTH NATION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; Box 69, 15 Union Street, Berwick, ON K0C 1G0; (613) 984-2948 FAX (613) 984-2872; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CLAIR REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 205 Mill Pond Crescent, Strathroy, ON N7G 3P9; (519) 245-3710 FAX (519) 245-3348; E-mail: email@example.com
TORONTO AND REGION CONSERVATION; 5 Shoreham Drive, Downsview, ON M3N 1S4; (416) 661-6600 FAX (416) 661-6898; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPPER THAMES RIVER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY; 1424 Clarke Road, London, ON N5V 5B9; (519) 451-2800 FAX (519) 451-1188; E-mail: email@example.com