Georgian Bay, landscape in literature
I am often asked by my summer customers if I live here all year round, and if so, why. The answer is in part because the business that supports my family is here – but most of all it is because the rocks and water of Georgian Bay are were I feel most at home. There are people from all over the world who live here for some of the year, I have cottage neigbours from Vienna, England, United States and other parts of Canada.
This summer the Great Lakes Cruising Club is meeting for their annual rendezvous in Parry Sound. Many of these boaters know the Bay, but many from the United States do not. To welcome them and give them some information about Georgian Bay I’d like to offer a reading list. There are many works of non-fiction about Georgian Bay and our landscape but I would like to recommend some novels.
There are a few novels that are set right here and will give readers a real sense of the landscape and history of Georgian Bay. Angel Walk by Katherine Govier is the true Parry Sound novel. This book, published in 1996, is the story of a young woman, born in Parry Sound. She works for a time in the Nobel munitions factory, before becoming a photographer in Europe during the Second World War. She then returns to live on an island in Georgian Bay. Katherine Govier spent many summers on Georgian Bay, both north and south of Parry Sound. She knows the town well and has captured the magic of Georgian Bay in Angel Walk.
Summer Gone by John Macfarlane is a novel that takes place over many years, describing three summers spent on Georgian Bay. He begins with a young man on a canoe trip from a Georgian Bay camp. The same young man returns to the Bay when he is a young husband paddling with his wife, and again some years later with his teenage son.
Andrea Curtis is a name familiar to many, we often see her articles in Cottage Life magazine. She is a local cottager and has written a family memoir set on Georgian Bay, Into the Blue. She chronicles the fate of a family, and their shipping business, after a tragic shipwreck. Woven into the story are tales of other Georgian Bay shipwrecks and stories of early cottagers on Georgian Bay.
Sailor Girl by Sheree-lee Olson, and Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye are two novels that, though not set on Georgian Bay, give readers a real sense of life on the Great Lakes freighters and the magnificent storms those working on the boats have experienced.
Sailor Girl is the story of a young woman working on Great Lakes Freighters in the 1980’s. It is a powerful novel about life on the boats, and the beauty and violence of the Great Lakes.
Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye is not set on Georgian Bay but it feels like it is! One of the best books I read this past winter, this is the story of the final illness of a father, and his estranged son who returns to do his duty. The son discovers the true story of his father’s experience as the survivor of a tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat. It is a beautifully written and moving story.
So, welcome all boaters, campers, travellers, and summer residents! Enjoy Parry Sound and Georgian Bay and enjoy reading a great book set in this beautiful place.