Dailies: July 12, 2013

One of the really nice perks that comes with laying yourself and all of your resources on the line for a project is that people like to give you things. Usually they are very nice location specific things, like concert tickets or gift cards to a local restaurant or something like that. In Tobermory, we got to go on a glass-bottom boat tour! So we decided to spend today experiencing that and taking in Flowerpot Island, which is the only public-accessible island in the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Fathom Five is Canada’s first marine park and is one of four in total (the others are located at Lake Superior, Gwaii Haanas, and Saguenay).

So we went out in the boat, which starts with a tour around Big Tub Harbour. Tobermory has two “Tubs”: Big and Little. Little Tub is the main marina around which the downtown is situated. Big Tub is larger and, for its width, quite deep–according to our guide, it is the deepest freshwater harbour in North America. It’s no surprise, then, that for much of its history Big Tub has been home to various maritime enterprises and (of course) mishaps. Two of the park’s 22 shipwrecks are in Big Tub: the Sweepstakes, a huge schooner which initially wrecked off Cove Island in 1885 and subsequently sunk in the harbour, and the City of Grand Rapids, a passenger steamer which caught fire and sank in 1907. These wrecks are in mere feet of water, and in the case of the Grand Rapids, low water levels have left part of the hull exposed. It is amazing to have such history so (literally) close to the surface. And even more interesting is that these catastrophic losses have transformed into such a vital part of the tourist economy here.

Flowerpot IslandFlowerpot Island is terrific because it is relatively undeveloped. The docks, a washroom, and a dining canopy represent the bulk of the manmade objects (well, okay, there is a lighthouse on the north side of the island too). Still, the terrain is fairly natural. The island is an excellent example of dolomite erosion, which is shown by its slab rock beaches, hundreds of caves, and, of course, the flowerpots. These sea stacks, improbably perched on their narrow bases, tower over the shore on the southeastern side. The formations are made of rock so regularly cracked that it looks like masonry (in some cases it probably is as a maintenance measure). In fact, the whole beach looks engineered, the product of some modern architect’s flirtation with open water.

I would tend to theorize that perhaps some of the conservationist leanings of the residents of this area arise from the sheer beauty and variety of natural environments in such a limited area. In some cases, it is easier to pay attention to the issues if you can have a good time doing it.

We returned in the evening to set up for the workshop, which is starting tomorrow morning. As with Tyendinaga, we have found that the best thing to do is to hold a smaller “catchup” workshop, just an hour and a half of the essentials, during the following week. Especially at this time of year, there is simply too much going on.



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