On a fundamental level, we are connected to water. Water is necessary for our survival, second only to the air we breathe. Our experiences with water allow us to connect with each other.
Through stories collected and stored in the Watermark Project Archive, we can see how we all share these connections with water and each other. Watermarks are stories about a person’s connection to a body of water and how they made that connection. The IJC began partnering with the Watermark Project in 2016 to help collect these stories.
The three submissions below take place in different waterbodies, spanning transboundary waters from coast to coast. Despite that, these individuals have similar histories. For them, water shaped their lives and connected them with their families and communities.
Donald Taylor’s family has lived on Saint John River in New Brunswick for five generations. Taylor was born beside the river in the 1926 and recalls that almost everything he did in his youth involved the water. It shaped and influenced his life and the lives of his family and friends.
Taylor recalls spring freshets that in some years would raise the water levels so high it required local business owners and customers to roll up their pants and splash through the river to get to the shops. Read more here.
Rebecca Graham recalls a childhood spent on Alouette River in British Columbia, where her father worked on the tug boats. Graham remembers the beauty and the power of the water that was her playground.
She recalls playing on the docks and when a day playing log rolling games made it clear to her why she always had to wear a life jacket. Read more here.
Tzeporah Berman’s uncle and grandfather were fishermen and their family ran a lighthouse on Lake of the Woods in Ontario.
Some of Berman’s clearest memories are of her grandfather pulling up the lines and cleaning the fish he’d caught. She describes visits to the lake as “pure joy and connection -- to my family and the Earth.” Read more here.
These waters flowed through the center of the lives of these three individuals and their families. To express why a waterbody you care about is important to you and to share your history, submit your own Watermark here or browse the archive for more stories about the important role water plays in our lives and communities.