Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by René Hackstetter.
We rack our brains every year to come up with a way of promoting Midland and area with names like “Gateway to the Thirty Thousand Islands" and “Heart of Georgian Bay;" always reaching into our armoury to retrieve a name.
Yes, always drawing from the well of our fluid and collective memories for the perfect word to describe our location.
The Rocky Islands of….. I think…(aren’t these Zwicker shots of Cognashene and the islands amazing?).
It is a subset of the same asked question, and somehow these images intrude into my streams of thought. Why? Spirit Lake for the Ojibway, Lake Attigouatan, for the Huron, La Mer Douce for Samuel de Champlain, even Lake Manitoulin and perhaps, finally, Georgian Bay. These last two names were from a Royal Navy Captain Owen and a Lt. Henry Bayfield, respectively.
Extraordinary place, and likely, all those who viewed this mighty inland sea, girded by primeval forest, would feel the magic and power.
Huge swaths of cultivated corn, beans, squash were grown is the popular narrative. However, the true story is an overabundance of grapes, nuts, every imaginable fruit with all the bearing trees full, everywhere.
At the centre, a huge, freshwater lake fed by underground springs, rivulets, creeks and streams. A pure water source in a sylvan forest, an Edenic existence for the inhabitants and a society that traded with its neighbours, but still defended against war. The story of how that changed, is for other days.
This area is extraordinary. Why would the Recollet and Jesuit fathers come here? Why would this be the loci for Martyrdom? Was this some spiritual centre, some place of magic, some special intersection of the sacred? You have to ask yourself these questions. It leaves you, ultimately with more questions, many of which remain unanswered.
We need to come together and re-imagine our special place at the centre of this world here. If we do not consider ourselves at the centre of this life now, then we will be forever living on the margins of this world. Our world is not where Midland's borders are, but a far larger world encompassing this Spirit Lake, this centre of the world.
Copyright René Hackstetter, November 25, 2020.