A few years ago, Jane Fairburn fell off the Scarborough Bluffs. Alone, with a broken ankle, she waited for rescue on the edge of one of Lake Ontario’s highest cliffs. Jane’s experience on Killer Hill inspired her to write Along The Shore. Equal parts history, geography, and poetry, Along the Shore expertly captures the spirit of Lake Ontario..
Join Jane Fairburn and Mark Mattson for the launch of Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto's Waterfront Heritage on Wednesday, July 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Balmy Beach Club.
Lake Ontario is wild, and it is always changing. The torrents of rain, stormwater, and sewage that flooded Toronto’s river valleys and bubbled up from buried streams in last night’s storm showed that in dramatic fashion.
Along the Shore beautifully documents the tension between natural and human forces. Readers will marvel at the maturity and hope Jane infuses into her observations. Thinking about the current lake-filling to stabilize the Scarborough Bluffs for homes and walking paths, Jane laments the destruction of last creeks, pebbled beaches and nearshore fish and bird habitat. She notes: the irony is that bringing people down to the water also brings destruction. In conservation there is loss, and in development there is always change.
But Jane never leaves us hopeless. Always walking, running, observing near her house, Jane crossed paths one recent morning with a large stag and started thinking: it would seem that the world of the stag and the fisherman and the farmer have all been traded away. Has it been a fair exchange? And then again, are they really gone? Einstein said "the distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion however persistent. There may be some comfort in that."
As the Waterkeeper for Lake Ontario, I too trace my beginnings to other worldly experiences on the Lake, although on an Island 150 miles to the east and only 40 years ago, not 200. But the stories of the fish, the birds, the fields and the isolated people roughing it in the bush on Toronto outskirts, resonate with me. As do the chapters on Destruction and Loss and Renewal. Jane captures the timeless unique features of this Great Lake and the changing environment as industry, development and people grow.
Jane Fairburn's work is a powerful gift of hope for Lake Ontario. Through it, she has found a way to re-engage us with our shorelines, our water, our communities. She reminds us not only of what our connection to Lake Ontario is, but what it has been - and most excitingly, what it can be again.
I hope you will join Jane and me on Wednesday, July 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Balmy Beach Club.
-- Mark Mattson
Stay tuned: We’ll be featuring excerpts from Arguments with the Lake by the Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario, Tanis Rideout later this month as a team of swimmers makes the unprecedented journey from Kingston to Hamilton in open water.