Discover the marvel that is Georgian Bay, its hidden history, its storied rock, culture, and the fragile nature that abounds here.Georgian Bay contains the largest freshwater island in the world (Mani
Discover the marvel that is Georgian Bay, its hidden history, its storied rock, culture, and the fragile nature that abounds here.
Georgian Bay contains the largest freshwater island in the world (Manitoulin Island) and the world's largest freshwater archipelago (the Thirty Thousand Islands). Some of its rocks are 2.5 billion years old. It is home to a fascinating range of plants and animals that live both above and below the water and as such is a unique ecosystem. Its startling shorelines have inspired scientists, artists, and conservationists for generations.
The Bay has been home to Native people for thousands of years. Samuel Champlain canoed it in 1615 marveling at its maze of islands. The Bay was a significant part of the fur trade and the lumber business and a place that attracted new farmer-settlers who would find both solace and sorrow among the beautiful but unforgiving Canadian Shield rocks.
Georgian Bay's waterscapes are as legendary as the summer storms that spring out of nowhere. It is also a place of calm, crystal-clear waters and glorious sunsets that provide families with memories that last a lifetime.
This book is a project of the Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) which recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Edited by award-winning geologist and best-selling author, Nick Eyles, the text and pictures have been selected from a wide-ranging group of scientists, historians, artists, writers, photographers, and people who are passionate about preservation of this unique ecosystem.
The iconic landscape and the story it tells of the history of our planet is little known to Canadians despite its proximity to the nation's largest urban area.
Everything you wanted to know about Georgian Bay and were afraid to ask, is right here. It brings together leading geologists, ecologists, artists and archeologists to tell the dramatic and so-far untold story of Georgian Bay
- From its earliest beginnings some 1.5 billion years ago in the aftermath of a gigantic meteorite strike when the area was dominated by mountains as large as the Himalayas,
- To the first appearance of humans during the waning stages of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago when much of the area still lay buried under ice a kilometre thick,
- About the mammals and birds,
- The unique freshwater ecosystems,
- The forests,
- Even the art of the area.
From Wasaga Beach in the south, through Tobermory in the west and Parry Sound to the east, up to Manitoulin Island and Little Current in the north, and everywhere in between, if you enjoy, are fascinated by, or just curious about this unique region then check out this book!
View Biographical note
List of Contributors:
Christine Boyanoski is a curator and writer based in Toronto and holds a PhD from the University of London, UK. She has organized many exhibitions and published extensively in the field of Canadian art.
Martin Cooper has been involved in archaeology in Ontario for over thirty years. He is a Partner and Senior Archaeologist with Archaeological Services Inc. and has served as Project Director on hundreds of single and multi-phased assessments throughout Ontario.
Nick Eyles is Professor of Geology at the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto and has published research on world geology from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
Susan Hannon is a retired ecology professor from the University of Alberta. Her research career focussed on behaviour and ecology of birds and the impacts of forestry and agriculture on bird communities.
Jamie Hunter has a Master's degree in Museum Studies and brings fifty years of archaeological and historical experience to bear in the preservation, research and dissemination of the human history of the Huronia/Southeastern Georgian Bay region.
Bill Lougheed is a retired scientist and biomedical engineer with a life-long interest in conservation on Georgian Bay. Bill is the Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Land Trust and summers on Georgian Bay.
Andrew Miall has been Professor of Geology at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, since 1979, where his focus is teaching and research on the stratigraphy and sedimentology of sedimentary basins.
Karl Schiefer Ph.D., is an internationally-recognized specialist in freshwater ecosystems having held academic and research positions focusing on aquatic ecosystem research in Canada and abroad.
Peter Storck has a Ph.D. in anthropology and is Senior Curator Emeritus at the Royal Ontario Museum following a very long and distinguished career on New World archeology and the peopling of North America.
Janny Vincent is a second generation islander on Georgian Bay and has spent over 50 years summering with her family there. She resides in Toronto and is the President of Vincent Associates Inc., a full service information management company and President and C.E.O. of Fundata Canada, one of Canada's leading supplier of financial information. Janny is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she studied English.
Bob Whittam is a well-known ornithologist, who has many years' experience working with and writing about the birds of Georgian Bay and many other sites across the Great Lakes.
Ronald F. Williamson is founder and managing partner of Archaeological Services Inc., a cultural resource management consulting firm based in Toronto and Burlington, Ontario.
Edited by Nick Eyles
View Promotional headline
Winner of the 2017 Chalmers Award for Ontario History
"'Impressive' . . . 'Compelling'. . . 'Seductive'. . . With such comments, the Champlain Society's Chalmers Award Committee gave unanimous approval to a beautifully illustrated compendium of essays on Georgian Bay.
Georgian Bay: Discovering A Unique North American Ecosystem, edited by Nick Eyles, takes the reader on a two billion year journey through geological time to reveal the complex and singular ecosystem that is often called the Sixth Great Lake. The book tells the story of the clash between water and rocks and the myriad ways that flora and fauna have adapted and flourished along the Bay?s windswept shores and its many thousands of offshore islands. Individual chapters focus on life on the land, in the air above and in the water beneath the wide-mouthed bay. Maps, charts, stunning photographs old and new, complement the clear-eyed prose. And then there are the stories of the peoples of the Bay with their varying histories, triumphs and failures. First Nations, traders and settlers all receive appropriate attention. Special regard is given to the colourful history of Collingwood, and the art of Georgian Bay before and after the Group of Seven's iconic work.
In short, the book enriches our appreciation of the constantly interacting aquatic and terrestrial spaces that characterize this massive and monumental region of Ontario. Congratulations to the Georgian Bay Land Trust who sponsored it and to editor Nick Eyles and all the contributors for a book which will delight scholars, general readers, and visitors as well as all those fortunate enough to live along the shores of the Bay."
— Chalmers Award jury
View Introduction or preface
Georgian Bay (15,000 km2) is the sixth Great Lake, often forgotten as such and the only one not named after indigenous peoples. It is a place that straddles major geologic, climatic, ecological and cultural boundaries; what has been called the 'land in between' along the southernmost margin of the seemingly sterile Precambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield with the much softer sedimentary rocks and farmlands to the south. As such Georgian Bay is a unique aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem.
Georgian Bay's west coast is dominated by the cliffed limestones of the Niagara Escarpment defining the backbone of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island with prominent glacially-carved gaps allowing its waters to interchange with Lake Huron. The limestone plains of the Bay's west coast contrast with the 'Thirty Thousand Islands district' (there are closer to 100,000 islands at the last count) on its opposing eastern shore that form the most extensive freshwater archipelago anywhere in the world. Georgian Bay straddles the boundary between the boreal Shield to the north and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. It is what ecologists call an 'ecotone' sharing many elements of north and south, and is consequently more diverse than either.
The myriad islands and protected shallow inlets along the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay, where the waters of Georgian Bay have flooded the bumpy, glacially-scoured surface of the Canadian Shield, contrasts greatly with the opposing coastline along the Bruce Peninsula dominated by the imposing Niagara Escarpment that drops precipitously into deeper open water.
To date, there has been no systematic effort to describe the ecology, geology and landscapes of Georgian Bay and its aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, its organisms and the history of human occupancy. Elizabeth Campbell lamented in 'The West Wind' (published in 2005) on Georgian Bay that 'it seems odd that no one has asked why and how an iconic landscape was created.' The 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Georgian Bay Land Trust in 2016 has been the impetus for this book which brings together geologists, ecologists, historians, archeologists and artists to tell the unique story of Georgian Bay.
Starting 2 billion years ago and ending with the ice ages this book traces the origins of its rocks, landscapes, waters and ecosystems. Humans arrived from Asia 11,500 years ago just as the last ice sheet was receding northwards exposing more and more of the Bay. These skillful hunters formed a stable sustainable culture on the southern margins of the Canadian Shield that lasted some 9,000 years until their agricultural descendants built settled communities trading corn with northern hunter gatherers; the foundation of the fur trade after 1600. We emphasize in the pages that follow the profound impacts of accelerated European settlement after 1840, the challenges facing the early settlers, the impact of the railways and loggers and the great changes currently underway as the area moves away from being viewed as a resource to be exploited to a unique geological, ecological and cultural icon to be conserved. The book ends appropriately enough with a review of conservation measures taken over the last 100 years and outlines what needs to be done to keep this land an icon while balancing public accessibility with protection.
This then is the story of Georgian Bay.