I once again sound like I'm being boastful I live in a beautiful piece of Canada. I am surrounded by lakes and rivers, farmland, forests, and plentiful wildlife (my friends who are having bear problems might beg to differ). I choose to live here. I could live anywhere in the world that I would like, but I "choose" Tweed. I say this but, like most of you I appreciate the beauty of where I live, and yet I sometimes just take it for granted or don't even think about it at all.
Every Canada Day Tweed has a Canada Day celebration at the Memorial Park. Every year the celebration is a little different. Some years it is better, some years not as great as the year before. This year was one of the best that I can remember. It is planned for me and the rest of our community by a group of committed individuals, and for this I am extremely appreciative. For the last 3 years a local group, "Friends Of Stoco Lake" have been giving boat rides around Stoco Lake.
I grew up in Tweed, I have spent the majority of my life living in Tweed. I have been to the Tweed Memorial Park more times than I could possibly count. I have driven past Stoco Lake more times than even that. It always seems so small, so omnipresent. It has always just been there, I have never really given it any thought, that is until four years ago.
Four years ago for the first time in my entire 42 years I rode "on" Stoco Lake. I have been around it countless times, but never traveled on it. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Generous individuals donated the use of their boats and their not so inexpensive gas to take strangers on a tour of Stoco Lake. For some of us it is our own backyard that we have never had the opportunity to explore. People donated the use of their powerboats and their pontoon boats. We have a large party, and so we got to take our tour on a pontoon boat. We traveled because of the kindness and generosity of strangers. We were able to go as a family that included Christopher, myself, all four kids, my parents and even some of the kid's friends. These strangers were so welcoming, that by the end of the trip they did not feel like strangers anymore. They showed us our lake from an vantage point that we could have never seen before, it looked so alien, and beautiful. It was as if my entire life I had been wearing coloured glasses and for the first time had taken them off to truly appreciate the richness of the colours all around me.
The tour of Stoco Lake has become a delight that we look forward to every year, it is in fact perhaps the highlight of our year. The way the wind blows our hair, the wind in our faces, the warmth of the sun, the beauty around us is priceless. I see my children in a different light when we take that annual ride. I am able to sit back and enjoy them. Their little faces (not quite as little as they once were) are filled with joy and excitement. They will take this amazing opportunity with them for their entire lives. This will be cemented into their memories of their hometown, and of their childhood.
This this now annual family tradition has not only given us an opportunity to explore our area in ways that we would not normally be able to, it has also opened my eyes very dramatically. For years I have known that Stoco Lake was polluted. It was a fact, that never traveled beyond a nonchalant fact for me. Now I see Stoco Lake as a living breathing entity, it is an entity that deserves our protection and our care. This is the same goal of the Friends of Stoco Lake. I have copied from their website (which I have included a link for below) a copy of their mission statement.
Mission Statement and Objectives
Stoco Lake has welcomed local residents and visitors to Tweed for many years.
However, use and enjoyment of the Lake has suffered in recent years as a result of
declining environmental quality. The Lake ecosystem and the prominent role of
the Lake in the community needs to be restored.
‘Friends of Stoco Lake’ are working to improve the overall health of Stoco Lake,
for the benefit of people and the environment, in recognition of it’s important
contribution to the quality of life in our community.
1) ‘Fact-finding’ – gathering the information required for an evidence-based
approach to identifying actions that need to be taken in both the short and
2) Development of an ‘action plan’ for Stoco Lake. This would include:
• Identifying priority actions for ‘Friends of Stoco Lake’ and others with
mandates related to improving lake quality
• Undertaking priority actions that are appropriate for the Friends (i.e., are not
being done by others, that are achievable for a volunteer organization that are
3) Developing partnerships with other organizations that can provide for a more
effective approach to improving the health of Stoco Lake.
4) Sharing information, and educating / influencing the general public, all levels
of government, local community organizations, schools and others with respect
to what needs to be done.
What it basically boils down to is that like everything, we have enjoyed the lake, but have given it no respect. There was a time when some of the cottages that line the banks of Stoco Lake built their septic systems so that they would empty directly into the lake (this has since been corrected). People treated the lake as an object instead of a resource that is also a living entity. If we want to enjoy the beauty that Stoco Lake has to offer we need to respect it and help it to heal. Our family plan to make a donation to The Friends Of Stoco Lake, and I would ask you to do the same. The years of abuse that the lake has taken cannot be undone by itself. It took many people to pollute the lake, it will take many hands to make it right.