|Lake Simkoe on Simkoe Day|
Looking At The Past To Build A Better Future
Lake Simcoe - home for 350,000 people in central Ontario - is under stress. Phosphorous entering the water from urban areas and agriculture is causing overgrowth and inhibiting fish populations. These inputs have increased three-fold since Europeans settled around Lake Simcoe in the late 1700s. It's important to protect and improve this watershed, which has a vibrant, colourful history and is vital to Ontario's economy.
John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada's first Lieutenant-Governor, named Lake Simcoe after his father. Lord Simcoe first visited the Lake in September 1793 searching for a harbour to establish a naval arsenal and depot to protect Upper Canada from American conflict. His plan included a road to transport supplies from Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario.
On February 20, 1796, after years of surveying and clearing land, Yonge Street, was opened as a wagon route for supplies from Toronto to Holland Landing on Lake Simcoe. Simcoe Day, also known as Civic Holiday, honours Ontario's first governor every August.
After Yonge Street was opened, Lake Simcoe became Ontario's first cottage country. In 1877, Jackson's Point became a very popular playground for tourists and cottagers, when boarding houses, private cottages, campgrounds and hotels opened up along the accessible lakefront. It's still a popular destination.
Today, the population of the Lake Simcoe watershed grows to nearly 400,000 people during summer months. The watershed includes significant natural systems and portions of the Oak Ridges Moraine and Ontario's "Greenbelt".
Excess phosphorus is affecting the Lake -- its coldwater fishery, tourism and recreation and waterfront properties -- and it's important to clean this up. Environmentalists, farmers, industries, communities and individuals need to work together. Recently, a scientific panel appointed by the Ontario government was asked to recommend the next steps to help protect Lake Simcoe. This will lead to new rules for keeping the Lake clean and protecting it for future generations. These rules will be drawn up after consulting with everyone who enjoys it or who lives or works near the Lake.
Visit www.ene.gov.on.ca and learn how you can get involved.
Anne Lannan 7/16/2008