I just finished reading Lakeland by Saskatoon writer Allan Casey, and it was a sweeping, superb read. Canadians from across the country will find much to entertain, to enlighten, and to enjoy.
Casey thinks about Canada from the perspective of lakes — after all, Canada owns some 60% of the world’s freshwater lakes — and so the entire country becomes Lakeland. It’s a title that resonates with me. The region where I grew up in central Saskatchewan, just past the line of the boreal forest, is known in local and provincial parlance as Lakeland.
In a unique move, Casey visits lakes in almost every one of Canada’s provinces — Lake Okanagan, Waterton, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods and Lake Nipissing in Ontario, Lac Saint-Jean in Quebec, the lakes of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, and Bras d’Or in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. As a good Saskatchewan boy, he includes three Saskatchewan lakes: Emma Lake, Ajawaan Lake (where Grey Owl lived), and Lake Athabasca in the north. Moving through all seasons and a breadth of regions, the book is part travelogue and part prose poem about lakes, wilderness, beauty, development, environmentalism, and the visceral connection so many Canadians feel to their ‘home’ lake. Readers travel with Casey as he gets to know both the lakes and the people who live beside them, protect them, fish them, travel over them in winter, study them, boat over them, or swim across them.
It’s a beautiful read. For anyone who has ever ‘gone to the lake’ in Canada, this book is for you.