Stories of People Connected to the Lake
Brian French’s favourite place in the whole wide world isn’t a far off destination. It’s just 30 minutes from home.
For his entire life, the Chatham, Ont. resident’s family has owned a cottage in Rondeau Provincial Park on the shores of the Lake Erie. During the summer months, he spends any moment he can at the cottage and by the lake. He loves the spot so much that he is the current Vice-President of the Rondeau Cottagers Association. The license plate of his car even proudly reads “Rondeau.”
“I get a lot of pleasure just looking at the lake, whether I am at the beach or at the cottage on the deck, or whether I am just glancing out from our porch,” said Brian. “I just like to know that it’s there.”
There was a time in Brian’s life that he didn’t live so close to the water. The 911 dispatcher spent nearly a decade studying and working in Kitchener-Waterloo. But Rondeau and the lake kept calling him home. So much so, that any chance he had he would drive to the cottage, just to be close to the lake.
“I love the sound of it. I love hearing the waves, even more in the wintertime. Believe or not, the lake really talks to you in the wintertime,” he said. “The ice is constantly moving. It’s constantly grinding. It’s constantly building up into these giant ice mountains all winter. The sound that it makes is just indescribable.”
However, not all of Brian’s Lake Erie memories are good ones.
A few years back, Brian, his brother and his brother’s family travelled down to Morpeth, Ont. for what was supposed to be a fun day by the water. But that changed quickly when they arrived on the shore.
“There were literally thousands of dead fish that weren’t there the day before,” he said, recalling the incident that was caused by a naturally-occurring lake inversion. “That was shocking to all of us.”
As someone who has spent nearly 50 years by Lake Erie, Brian also remembers a time it was not safe to swim in the water. And recently, he has witnessed the health of the lake worsen again.
He is concerned about the algae blooms that have been plaguing the lake, adding it’s something that needs to be watched closely. And he wants people to know that Lake Erie plays an important role in the Great Lakes’ ecosystem and economy, and that it (along with the other Great Lakes) needs to be protected.
“Those of us in Southern Ontario are very fortunate to have the Great Lakes in our own backyard,” he said.
For almost 30 years, Lake Erie has been in JoAnne Chrysler’s backyard. Read JoAnne’s story.
Paul Trudell’s restaurant’s menu is inspired by Lake Erie. Read Paul’s story.
Kimberly Shillington is an avid paddle boarder on Lake Erie. Read Kimberly’s story.
Todd is a Lake Erie commercial fisherman based out of Wheatley, Ont. Read Todd’s story.