Algonquin Park - Hal Roth

Coming Home

For a long time I’ve wanted to photograph the Fall Colour in Algonquin Park.  When I was a kid I went to summer camp on Canoe Lake so my connection with the park runs deep within me.  What I enjoyed the most were the two week canoe trips we took through the park.  It was exciting, we were explorers paddling the lakes and rivers, portaging in the back country where few people have ever been.  Seeing landscapes that were totally new to us at every turn.  It was hard work paddling, portaging with heavy packs and carrying canoes but it was rewarding.  When you spend that much time outdoors in the sun and rain, eating and sleeping that close to the natural world, you feel like you are part of it.  And indeed you are.

Now, many years later, with camera in hand, I can focus purely on the aesthetic side of it and it is almost over powering.  At one point, I remember looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead with the sunlight pouring through them and thinking “this is like being in a cathedral!”  This is like La Chappelle, the chapel in Paris, famous for its stained glass windows.  The glass actually glows with the light coming through it.  Well, guess what, this is a cathedral, a perfectly natural one.  It’s no wonder the native Algonquin people were so spiritual about their environment.  It provided them with all the necessities of life, their food, shelter and clothing.  It was also stunningly beautiful.  In their council meetings, they wore their ceremonial clothing and head dresses and smoked a long thin pipe and held it up to the sky and gave thanks to the spirits of the earth, water, sun, moon and the four winds for all that they had received.

So, this land really is the birth place of who we are.  After the Europeans arrived, things changed dramatically, of course.  Logging in the Algonquin area was one of the first industries.  You already know the rest of the story.  The starting point, however, remains the same, it’s the land. Thank goodness this small patch of it has been left untouched!


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