Oh, if only these rocks could talk, what a thousands-of-years-old story they could tell about how they got here as part of the creation and continuing existence of this beautiful promontory of land and forests now called Hope Ness. That’s a name given to it by European newcomers barely 150 years ago. Hope Ness reaches out into, and protects Hope Bay, which is part of much larger Georgian Bay. That in turn is part of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes. I wonder if those newcomers borrowed from the name the Indigenous people who lived here since “time immemorial” had for Hope Ness. As I understand it, from my limited knowledge of local Ojibwa history, this was a gathering place of hope where First Nation people from throughout the Great Lakes’ area came for healing and rejuvenation. I’ve certainly come to realize that’s why I’m here and why I will never leave. Perhaps in times to come Hope Ness will have another similar name, or a renewed and restored one, expressing that same spirit. Fortunately. these rocks that certainly hold that spirit within them, including the one I touch every day on my walks, are still here to tell a very important part of the Hope Ness story. It’s one I’m often asked about; or, if I’m not, I often tell it anyway when people happen to come down the road, or off the trail, and are curious enough to inquire about the local history.
Hope Ness was almost destroyed about 50 years ago when the Dow Chemical Company wanted to develop a huge quarry to mine the limestone bedrock for its rich magnesium content. The plan included a large shipping facility at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment at nearby Hope Bay. The plan did not proceed. But in the meantime Dow had acquired a large interest in most of the land, which the Ontario government ended up owning, and still does. It now includes the provincial Hope Bay Nature Reserve which surrounds Cathedral Drive Farm on all sides. More details of the story of how that happened, and other aspects of the history and continuing existence of a place regarded as sacred can be found here, in Finding Hope Ness. Welcome.