…I’m an American on the Canadian Shield
And I’m putting down roots in your frozen fields…
Sam Roberts Band’s An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay (Chemical City, 2011)
As I navigate the twists and turns of Route 41 between Kaladar and Eganville passing through Bon Echo Provincial Park along the way, I take in the craggy rock faces serving as the backdrop for trees turning brilliant scarlets, oranges, and golds. Their reflections shine back at me from crystal clear lakes.
The Canadian Shield extends eight million square kilometers around Hudson Bay, reaching south into the U.S. as the Adirondack Mountains. In Canada, this 2+ billion year old, Precambrian rock formation stretches across Eastern, North Eastern, and East-Central Canada. It might seem impossible that anything could take root on these exposed rocks, but a thin layer of soil allows for diverse ecosystems to flourish from the Arctic to “well-loved” (i.e. worn down) mountains in upstate New York.
I am an American on the Canadian Shield. I too have put roots down here, albeit temporarily and not in Thunder Bay. (As a side note I should be clear here: I am not avoiding military service. Luck would have it however that I avoided the worst economic downturn in my country in my lifetime and beyond but that’s all.) Here in Pembroke, parts of the Shield serve as my classroom for adventure recreation and tourism. We have paddled past and jumped off of large rock outcroppings jutting into the Ottawa River. In a week’s time we will be hiking through Algonquin Park practicing Leave No Trace techniques. (I am particularly curious how principle 3 – dispose of waste properly – will go.) Where these lessons take me in the future remains to be seen.