Wildness and Culture in Hope Bay, Ontario

Recently on a work retreat in the Georgian Bay area, I met a young journalist and filmmaker, name, Nelson Phillips, who spoke eloquently about his summers up in Hope Bay, his gang of friends, their wanderings in the forest and along the shoreline that joined the cottages.  When Nelson began describing the freedoms of his childhood, I asked him if he would like to contribute to our “play memory” archive, little knowing that the article was already written and here it is!

Now I am taking my whole family up to the 1st Annual Wild Lands Film Festival in Owen Sound on the Thanksgiving Weekend!  Nelson is one of the organizers and will be showing a film of his own.  I am curious to see how the theme of “wild lands” is interpreted in the Festival.

Wildness and playfulness are often the same thing in a happy childhood. I have heard numerous elderly people recollect with pleasure the feeling of being able to “run wild” as children, to do what ever they wanted – with other children and without reference to the adult world.  They contrast this state with the grooming and good manners they were expected to show on Sundays. Here is another boundary that has changed in the last 30 years.

Nelson tells me that kids in Owen Sound don’t wander as much as they used to and this doesn’t surprise me.  Kids in the country are just as subject to the social fears and enclosures that are shutting down free play for children in the city.

At the Wild Lands Film Festival, I’ll be looking for some insight.  Meanwhile, we are all looking forward to a glorious autumn weekend in Northern Ontario!  Long hikes, good (craft) beer, (as promised!) and the delicious smell of the fall forest.

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