Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

When Annabel Slaight visited her family's Lake Simcoe cottage as a child, she drank the water right out of the lake.

On Aug. 12, when Slaight and the Ladies of the Lake ( held the first Splash: The Floating Water Festival in Georgina, the beach in front of the festival was closed because of e-coli.

Slaight, one of the co-founders of the Ladies of the Lake environmental group, says seeing this deterioration of Lake Simcoe drives her efforts to help the lake: "When you see such a beautiful lake, and you know that over the years its wonderfulness has been eroded, that's the driver."

Slaight spoke about Lake Simcoe Aug. 17 on the program Visionary Radio, hosted by Gisele Guenard. The program originally was aired on Voice of America Radio, heard around the world via the Internet.

Slaight was Lake Simcoe Living's Lake Person in the Summer issue. If you missed the Lake Simcoe Living story about Slaight, go to and click on the Magazine button or cover. Then go to the most recent issue — Summer 2011. Flip to page 15 to read the story.

If you would like to hear her interview on Voice of America, you can listen or download the episode by going to

Slaight told Guenard that the Ladies of the Lake organization is not closed to men. There were 10 men at the group's annual general meeting this year and about 50 women. But women do have a different way of doing things than men, she said, and the Ladies works in a female kind of collaborative way — low-key and high-impact.

One result of collaboration between many people was the Ladies of the Lake slogan for the lake: Drink it, Fish it, Swim it, Love it.

Slaight said the recent Splash festival was the first event of many to raise the $30- to $40-million needed for an Ontario Water Centre for learning and research on Lake Simcoe that would be good for the lake, Ontario and Canada. About 2,000 people attended the event, and there were more than 200 volunteers and sponsors.

Guenard also asked what people can do to help Lake Simcoe and other lakes.
Some of the ideas include:
• Use phosphate-free soap for dishes and in your dishwasher
• Do not have a driveway that is a hard surface. Use a porous surface so the water goes into the ground.
• Do not wash your car on the driveway, since the water will carry pollutants into the storm sewers. Do wash your car on the lawn, so the water and any soap can be absorbed and filtered by the soil.
• Replace areas of grass with native plants.
• Get healthy. Healthy people and families require fewer medications, so fewer particles from pharmaceuticals get into the water system. These pharmaceuticals cannot be cleaned out by our current sewage treatment plant.
• Instead of dashing across the lake burning gasoline or diesel, sit beside the lake or paddle across it to get more enjoyment from the lake.

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