Saturday, July 2, 2011

Boating on the St. Lawrence Seaway

It is I suppose a small confession that I don’t get out much, though I never imagined I would have been so amused by a couple of hours on a public boat tour in the 1000 Islands near Rockport, Ontario on the Ivy Lea Parkway, an adventure we undertook at eleven o’clock this morning along with a multitude of people. When I say a multitude of people, that seemingly indifferent description merits some enlargement as those people characterized one of the salient features of today’s escapade. Judging by what I was hearing, in addition to what I was seeing, the majority of the people on board were either tourists from all over the world (Spain, Mexico, Germany, East Europe, Cuba, the Orient and the West Indies) or what is more likely they were new Canadians, all of whom in spite of their obvious familiarity with another mother tongue were making a decided effort to communicate with one another in English (which was perhaps the only common language among them). I recall overhearing a tour guide reminding many of these people (who each wore a plasticized tag strung around their neck to mark their singularity) that after they returned to the mainland the bus was leaving at 1:15 p.m., and that if they missed it they would have to find their own way back to Ottawa. It occurred to me that these people may have been among those who were recently received into Canadian citizenship, coinciding with the ceremony of the Royal visit of William and Kate which began yesterday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day. There was a distinctly festive air which prevailed among the people in this particular crowd on the boat tour, a buoyancy which I sensed was the result of more than merely a brilliantly sunny day on the open water on a holiday weekend.

From my point of view, apart from our resonance with the merrymakers, the selling feature of the boat tour was the weather, and the fact that we luckily secured two of the foremost five seats of the boat, affording us (at least until the throngs below finished their lunch and swarmed to the upper deck) an exceedingly wide and open view of the water and all there was to see along the way. In spite of being latterly overwhelmed by the masses who wished to secure the highest and foremost positions on the boat, I contented myself to absorb the healing effects of the very warm sun, dry air and pleasant breeze. Occasionally I sought to remind those who had annoyingly positioned themselves in front of me that they were entirely blocking my view by making a bit of a spectacle to obtain a photograph of what was in the distance. This effort was however largely lost upon this enthusiastic and younger set and I knew in my heart it was better for me to defer rather than prove myself a curmudgeon. Besides it was admittedly entertaining to be swept up in the crush of youthful humanity, persuaded by their smiling faces and universally white teeth. There were also some small children who, being unable to see over the curtain of steel surrounding the deck sat at our feet and played games like chopsticks and scissors, rock and paper.

We congratulated ourselves upon having had the foresight to arrive at the boat launch well in advance of the scheduled departure. This gave us the time not only to wander about the neighbouring properties (resembling a village) to scan the horizon and just gaze into the distance, but also to permit us time to have a bite to eat at the airy Ship’s Galley Restaurant overlooking Lake Ontario. We hadn’t eaten much for breakfast prior to our departure, so the further mid-morning nourishment was opportune. And because the tour took a full two hours and more, we weren’t piqued when we landed early afternoon. Instead we instantly constructed plans for the enjoyment of the remainder of the day. These included a visit to a well-qualified butcher in Ottawa for filet mignon and sausage, then the collection of a variety of fresh berries. We already had all the vegetables required. Of course the car had to be washed, and we even permitted ourselves the opportunity to enjoy an iced coffee en route.

A refreshing shower and lather in Pear’s soap, and some fresh clothes, have put the cap on the day. The breeze has settled and the air is still. The late afternoon sun reaching over the red bugles of the hibiscus on the deck is dappled on the walls of the fireplace room. The clink of the glasses is to be heard above the sonorous melodies of a popular jazz composition. We’re settling in for the evening following a day of boating on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

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