When the accomplished Lois Linley of Kagawong received the prestigious Ontario Heritage Foundation Award, I was thrilled for her. And aware that her efforts align with superb tourism goals for Manitoulin. That is, to observe the thoughtful and careful development of SUSTAINABLE TOURISM for Manitoulin and North Ontario. I was also delighted to read about Nicole Weppler in Gore Bay as well.
As the entire tour and travel industry, in which I’ve studied, worked and grown up in for 24 years, changes every hour, we all move to a different style of management. There is much to watch out for now. Even though Manitoulin had a great summer economically with tourism, the impact of websites and the internet forces changes on us whether we like it or not. My travel and tourism mentor, Dr. David Edgell, who was Sr. Tourism Policy Administrator and Under Secretary of Tourism for the U.S. Department of Commerce, told me this week by phone that he is consulting with the Disney bigwigs on tourism and travel in 2020 and 2030. “By 2020, Bonnie, our airplanes will be able to fly at 1,000 miles per hour, and no destination on earth will be more than two hours away! In the last ten years, we have produced 100% more books and information on tourism and travel. And the quality of tourism is so much better. This changes the way we educate and train people in the tourism industry. If we are not careful, in our rural tourism, these areas can be depleted of physical and human resources.”
We went through the eco-tourism phase. Now I study SUSTAINABLE TOURISM, which takes into account three aspects: the planning and saving of the natural environment; the consciously built-up environment–tying into how a well-taken care of bay or lake will fit around parks and buildings, and the third is ensuring the stories, legacies, culture and history of our past are saved and readily available to our children. Not us of us could bear to see expensive condominiums surrounding West Bay or Mudge Bay. But it can happen.
Here’s Lois, creating, growing and organizing local heritage conservation. She is the founder of the Kagawong Historical Society, has put energies into promoting local craft sales, organized walking tours, helped in refurbishing the Old Mill, planned car buff shows and heritage evenings. She is modest, though, when we speak, thanking the legions of friends and volunteers who readily assist her. “Promoting local heritage, history and craft shows have become our main focus,” says Lois. “We’ve done so many workshops with so many organizations, this has been an education process for all of us.”
I first met Lois during a fabulous Canada Day parade in Kagawong many years ago. Yup, she was her high horse! His name was Midnight. Dressed in elegant riding clothes, she sat astride Midnight as they pranced along. Did she have style! In front, leading the parade was Uncle Moose, dressed in Mickey Mouse ears and jauntily driving his lawn mower! Following were Helen Crosswell and Elda Burt all dressed up in a lovely buggy, and the vivacious Eva Leech, wearing a white dress, standing on a fire truck, amidst cheers, applause and loving laughter from friends. With the variety of rich and distinct personalities, this confirmed to me Manitoulin can never be dull! A few weeks later, Lois let me ride Midnight, and was I a nervous nelly!
In fact, this becomes loving sustainable history! I have he pictures in a book to prove the congeniality of that day.
Managing the growth, guarding and maintaining the resources for the best growth of SUSTAINABLE TOURISM for the next 30 to 50 years, clearly presents a challenge NOW. And what concerned citizens everywhere face. Even as I sit in New York sending tourists to you. One big aspect for Rainbow Country tourist development is bringing tourism business in, the other is sustaining resources for our children.
How do we build and grow and yet sustain that essential quality and spirit of life that exists, weaving in the refinements of culture and style?
There’s so much I love here, even a Tim Horton cup of coffee off Falconbridge, scooting through Nairn, stopping at Birch Island, researching arts and crafts, quiet time sitting on a dock, or working time on an interview. It’s all rich and even I happily build a small legacy here!
The Heritage Awards point the way to the future, by enabling us recall and cherish the past. Lois agrees, saying “People have to take responsibility for the future. We have to know how our elected representatives see the development of Manitoulin, not just commercially, but with a view to preserving and cherishing the special heritage and history Manitoulin holds.” Yes, Ma’am, sustainable it is…
–Bonnie Kogos, Our Travel Editor, is currently on Manitoulin enjoying the beautiful fall weather and continuing her writing.