"I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying."
"Sea- Fever" written by John Masefield, 1900.
Just as John Masefield must go down to the seas again, each year there are two places where I must go and the call cannot be denied. Dyer Memorial is one. I journey to this hallowed ground in the Muskoka forest every year in late April or early May. My deceased mother is interred in Muskoka. I have a compulsion to spend time alone at the Memorial near the time of Mother's Day. Afterward, I have a deeper tranquility within.
In the Fall, I return to the Memorial again on Thanksgiving Weekend to see the wonderful colours that only the Muskoka woodland can offer. On my way to the Memorial, I always stop at a small village called Port Sydney located on Mary Lake which is located about eight kilometers south of Huntsville off Highway 11.
Here, there are water rapids flowing from Mary Lake into the Muskoka River. Cross over the bridge at the far end of the village and then turn left. The water and scenery are spectacular.
Every summer I must go to Orillia. I spend weekends at the waterfront park (Port of Orillia) found at the bottom of the town center hugging the shores of Lake Couchiching.
The park stretches along the water for over two kilometers and in this space there are picnic tables standing next to barbecues waiting for those parents and their children, who spurned the shopping malls for a better way to be together. Every weekend,
during the hospitable three seasons, there are scheduled activities in the park which attract people from all over the province.
Here, lovers and families strengthen their bond with each other. There is a large wooden board walk inviting visitors to stroll along the crystal waters of the lake. There is a children's playground; a safe and sandy beach; an outdoor amphitheatre where concerts are offered every Sunday evening during the summer and early fall...
and most importantly, there are magnificent trees that offer shade and relaxation for the weary traveler.
Reaching out into the water the public docking slips welcome sailors who come here by boat to share in the glory that this place offers.
Orillia has a rich history. It's located on the shores of Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. (Couchiching is the Native word for "land of many winds.)
The city can boast the summer home of Stephen Leacock, (the Stephen Leacock museum, located at 50 Museum Drive, is dedicated to this wonderful story teller). Gordon Lightfoot, who has given us so much in the music he created, was born in Orillia in 1938. The Mariposa Festival is held here each summer in Tudhope Park reaching out into Lake Couchiching. The Annual Orillia Scottish Festival happens every July; Christmas in June; Orillia Canada Day Celebrations...the list of activities is too long to recite. Almost every weekend there is something happening that is of interest for the visitor. For complete information go to www.orillia.on.ca
that is of interest for the visitor. For complete information go to www.city.orillia.on.ca and click on "Festivals and Events." You will be amazed regarding the social and recreational activity that Orillia offers.
The Canadian Legion, Branch 34, is located at the south end of the park. There is a sign on the outside wall claiming the Branch is the friendliest legion in Canada. Other Branches of the Legion may disagree but there is much truth regarding the boast. If you are a Legion member or you are with a member, go inside and enjoy their hospitality and entertainment, especially on a Friday or Saturday evening.
The Park offers ultimate contentment regardless of budget. The pursuit of material gratification and the pursuit of happiness are completely different concepts. You need only gasoline in your car and hamburger patties ready for barbecue to have a wonderful day with family and friends. There are no fees regarding park entrance and usage.
In and about the Park, there are railway cars transformed into restaurants, ice cream parlors, boating and docking facilities. Be sure to see the massive statue of Samuel d'Champlain watching over the children's playground. There are waterways leading to Georgian Bay to the north and a narrow channel, flowing below Highway 12, connects Lake Simcoe to the south. You might even want to travel on the Island Princess as it ventures onto the pristine waters of Lake Simcoe.
I often go there during the summer months. Look for me in a small cuddy cabin boat anchored between the larger crafts. If you see me, please say hello. My boat is called Cool Secret.
Orillia is known as the Sunshine City. It could also be called Cool Secret...a secret that must be shared with anyone seeking substantial quality of recreation and relaxation. The driving distance from Toronto is slightly over an hour.
Apart from all else that Orillia offers, there is one special corner in the park that is sacred. It's a granite monument depicting a mother and child located in the north end of the park, found in peaceful recluse, away from the shore line and the strollers along the board walk. It is a beautiful life-like representation of a mother and child dedicated by Ralph Begg to his mother Emily. Engraved in the base of the Memorial are the words "SOMEBODY'S MOTHER."
Many of us, at first, may have difficulty understanding the meaning that Ralph Begg was conveying in the inscription "Somebody's Mother," but when we stand before the monument the testimonial becomes clear. The message may be slightly different for each of us, but the bond that that exists between a child and mother remains with us always. I must go to Orillia again.