If the WCA didn’t exist, what would it matter?

We asked a number of our board members to describe what the West Carling Association means to them, and we did it in an interesting way, we asked “If the WCA didn’t exist, what would it matter”? Here are a few of their answers.


In June 2011, my husband and I purchased our cottage, which we call The Snug, because as a Brit, and lover of a “good pint” the term “The Snug” has a special meaning for Damian and because we are located very near to Snug Harbour. Within a month, a very personable man named Bruce Davidson kayaked up to our dock and encouraged us to join the West Carling Association. We did and what a good decision that has proven to be.

In joining the WCA, and attending the AGM meetings, we have met an extremely interesting, erudite, committed group of people who are all in agreement that Georgian Bay is a treasure over which we must keep watch.

This WCA has helped us in many ways.

We learned things practical and theoretical:

We have experienced:

The result of all of this learning and communing with our new friends and with the natural beauty that is Georgian Bay is a deep, one might say spiritual, appreciation of this very special part of Canada.  We consider ourselves truly blessed to be meeting such amazing people, and to be experiencing the wonders of the Bay area at a time in our lives when we have the freedom to do so.


Our grandchildren ages 12, 9, 7 and 4 are all avid cottagers.  I asked them what they like most about being at the cottage.  Of course, they mentioned spending time with family, especially their cousins and going for ice cream.  They also talked about swimming, kayaking, boating and tubing. They talked about exploring Franklin, the Pancakes and other islands in the area for picnics and “checking out” the rocks.

Treasured activities for them are hunting for berries and “cool” flowers.  They mentioned the fun of spotting wildlife nearby.  Our four year old grandson said he likes “finding deer poo”!  Deer, fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, foxes, mink and the occasional bear (including the one that trespassed into our basement) are all a focus of interest for them.  They talked about Snug Harbour Lighthouse as an important part of the area.  Honourable mention also went to the West Carling events such our annual picnic and the recent Children’s Waterfest held at Fitzgerald Bay Beach.

Similarly, I remember that, as our children were growing up, they took delight in the same things.  I also recall their fascination with the local history, shipwreck sites and the boats of all shapes and sizes that came and went.

When I stepped back and thought about what all of this meant, I realized that the signal we received from our children and grandchildren is the importance of preserving the natural environment and the history of Georgian Bay.  How would their enjoyment change if there were no longer the symbolic landmarks, the pristine, clear waters of the Bay and the biodiversity of this incomparable environment that we enjoy today?

As a multigenerational family enjoying our cottage we have been “on the Bay” and members of the West Carling Association for over 30 years.  Our family enjoys the social events.  We benefit from the advocacy work of WCA that includes monitoring Township Council discussions and decisions particularly in relation to waterfront development, taxation and the fate of local landmarks such as Snug Harbour Lighthouse.  WCA continues to work with community partners in the areas of invasive species control and water quality monitoring in order to preserve the natural environment to ensure enjoyment for many generations to come. WCA is a group of volunteers working on behalf of our family and yours.  I urge you to continue to support its activities and speak with your neighbours about joining.


If the West Carling Association (WCA) did not exist, what would it matter? Let’s try to answer that in steps.

Georgian Bay – that quintessential slice of Canadian landscape – where the pink granite of the Canadian Shield slides into the blue waters of the Lake Huron, the land of the Wendat and the Iroquois, where Champlain explored, and the Group of Seven painted. Judy and I have fallen in love with this spectacular place.

We have now learned about the fragility of this ecosystem:  the drying wetlands, the degraded water quality, the algal blooms, the Phragmites, the dying pine trees. We are also aware of the ever-increasing pressure from the six million people of the GTA, and beyond, some of whom come to kayak, jet ski, camp and fish in this idyllic playground. We welcome them, and hope that they too may experience some of the wonder we have. But we wish they did this responsibly. Our cottage ownership has awakened a sense of responsibility for addressing this.  This has happened mainly through our involvement in WCA and the larger GBA, both of which have focussed our attention on a myriad issues in our immediate surroundings which otherwise we would have missed. Our social contacts in WCA functions and meetings with neighbours and friends have strengthened our convictions and commitment.

In attempting to answer the question, we can state the obvious, as cottage owners we all love this place and want it to be forever so. While others come to play here, we must recognize that the kayakers, campers, and weekend boaters, jet skiers cannot be held responsible if they feel no obligation to preserve this place. And therein lies the answer as to why we need WCA. In the main it is the need for stewardship of our fragile environment. Carling Township provides the basic services: roads, snow removal, garbage, fire and policing, but a small rural municipality cannot be expected to have a grand vision for the environment of this magnificent shore. Even though WCA does not have direct representation on council, we can and do bring our concerns and suggestions to council, so that all users of this shore are aware of what needs to be reserved, why and how. This requires signage, posters, to educate, and where need be, bylaws to enforce behaviour and preserve the environment.

In short, WCA and the larger GBA, provide the foundation for understanding how to conduct ourselves without damaging the environment while at the same time enjoying this beautiful place with our friends and neighbours. If WCA did not exist all this would slowly slip away.


This is a complex question for me.  I had to ask myself what else might not exist, in my memories, in my heart and in my present and future.

My connection runs deep with the West Carling Association, my grandfather was instrumental in resurrecting the association in the late 70’s, my mother took his place on the board in the 90’s so it seemed natural that I would join in or around 2010.  Watching their dedication as a grew up, even though sometimes it meant missing a shore lunch on the only sunny day all week, was an inspiration to me.  I have no doubt that their love for the wind, waves and sunshine was made even more special by being able to share that love with their children and grandchildren.

Not long after joining the board, I started a family of my own, and I know that I want to share this love for West Carling with my grandchildren someday.

Also, not long after joining the WCA Board it became immediately clear to me that we are not alone, people up and down the shores of Georgian Bay and on the islands near and far from it, all love Georgian Bay, in their own way and for their own reasons. And associations like ours have come together to take part in a larger conversation, across municipal lines and at all levels of government, to find common ground to ensure the careful stewardship of the greater Georgian Bay environment, this group is the Georgian Bay Association and I am now your representative on their board serving as the Executive Vice President.

I see first-hand how this group brings like-minded people together, to strengthen their voices, to rally their resources so we can punch above our collective weight.  The countless volunteers’ hours are just the tip of the iceberg, more than the directors of the GBA board, even more than the directors of the local association boards, this group harnesses the relationships and the powers of its members to share information and rally the troops.  On our behalf the GBA has helped guide local governments to adopt responsible development practices and have worked at all levels of government to ensure the careful stewardship of the greater Georgian Bay environment.

I truly believe that it is only through our collective voices that we will be able to share this land, much as it is now, with our grandchildren’s grandchildren.  If you have not visited the GBA’s website lately, I ask that you take a minute and check it out at www.georgianbay.ca and discover how we can all work together as neighbours, WCA members, and as GBA Members.