The first Lake Simcoe steamer was the “Sir John Colborne,” built in 1832. Another steamer was the “Emily May” later renamed “The Lady of the Lakes.” These steamers traversed the lake, stopping at Barrie, Orillia, Beaverton, Port Bolster, Jackson’s Point, Belle Ewart and Roches Point. Those who embarked had to be prepared to spend the night on the water in the event of a breakdown. They carried passengers, freight and mail. The boats also provided enjoyable outings with meals and musical entertainment.

The Georgina Book created by the residents of the Town of Georgina is a great read for anyone who would like to learn more about our Lake Simcoe.

Our executive met at the headquarters of the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority in Newmarket in September. We talked about the next steps to be taken, marketing the lake and grants to help get us where we want to be. We tossed around ideas like a poster contest by local artists from around the lake, playing cards with pictures of the lake on them, pamphlets about different places on the lake and how to involve people that would like to play a part in this initiative. We had a very productive afternoon.

Barb and I went on a bus trip with many other parties interested in what is going on around our lake and watershed. We visited a carrot and onion farm in the Holland Marsh. The farmer explained to us about muck farming. He also told us about the canals and we saw first-hand how the canals are being moved over and planted with native species. When you drive through the marsh on highway 400 take a look at what is being done. The canal project is huge. There are many vegetables grown in the marsh like: carrots, onions, celery, pumpkins, garlic, lettuce, squash, and radishes, cucumbers etc.There is a vineyard — yes, grapes are being grown in the Holland marsh. There are greenhouses full of flowers, roses and many other varieties as well. “Good things Grow in Ontario” is very evident.

The bus took us to Innisfil Park for lunch. Many plantings have been done along the stream running through the park to prevent erosion from happening. Innisfil Park is a wonderful spot to see the sun come up. Some morning early, pick up a coffee at Tim’s and go down to the park and you’ll see what I mean. You won’t be disappointed. Oh and remember to toss your cup in the recycle bin. We want our park to be clean and green.

Next we drove to a mixed farm in Oro-Medonte. We learned how farmers treat manure these days in buildings with cement floors. It was very interesting but I won’t go into it in detail. The dry manure is sprinkled on the fields before the crops are seeded. Our last stop was a home high above the water in Oro-Medonte. The Lake Simcoe Community Stewardship program had helped the owner with his shoreline. Rocks had been brought in on a barge, then fill, and finally plantings of native species. This project is one of many in which the stewardship program has taken part. Shoreline improvement is very important for the protection of the lake.

We learned once again that there are many wonderful projects going on around the lake. All are helping to improve the quality of the water and protect the lake for future generations.    

Until next time, what used to be a huge winter industry on Lake Simcoe?