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Places to stop along the Great Lakes in Ontario

  • Writer's pictureRyan Clark

Sleeping Under the Stars at Ipperwash Beach, it was Beautiful

I just spent three nights camping for free on the beach, with nothing but my sleeping bag. Sleeping under the stars in the dunes, looking up at the Neowise Comet, the waves hitting the sand in a regularly shifting cadence. The comet was incredible, and not what I expected at all…you have no idea its moving as it seems to hang in place, its tail having more in common with headlights in the fog than fireworks. Like I said, not how I imagined at all. Without the light pollution to smother them, the millions of stars reminded me again just how small and irrelevant we are.

A beautiful orange sunset over ipperwash beach, stones and water.
Sunset at Ipperwash

Ipperwash, I’ve loved this beach since childhood. They stopped raking the beach years ago, and new residents are claiming their property line to the water’s edge… The old deeds show a municipal road way through there, but the municipality can’t afford to take them to court and challenge it, and now a few other creepy people started to draw inspiration…greed and money have ruined it, as even more of them are prepared to steal the publics beach knowing they won’t be challenged. What I fail to understand about it is inside the high-water mark, which encompasses most of the beach since the waves can get huge, is the bottom of the lake, and by law all lake bottoms are crown land? Is all it really takes is a private property sign? A tractor doesn’t rake the beach in the morning, and the families don’t gather and laugh on the beach anymore. I think to myself, if these people only saw what was there before, they’d realise their properties would be more valuable than gold if the beach actually regained its old glory, and the families came back. Anyway, A storm came in and cleaned the beach the best it had been in years. The water was amazing and like in my childhood there was that one sandbar you had to swim way out there to find. They always move with each storm, so it’s kind of a game, and I’m good not being a full time adult. The beach was packed with more people than I’d seen in years. Just on the other side of the beach is the Kettle Point First Nations, from an outsider’s perspective a successful community, with some really cool people and a few characters. I look at where they are, and where they’ve come from and wonder if any of the older boys like me miss the days of the bad tasting water, and stars shining through holes in the roof. Before the moneys all came in… Nostalgia is a weird thing, but I did love it back then. Anyway, back from my digression, the beach on their side was cut off from the road and someone was using a backhoe to dredge over there so that part of the beach was a write off this year…or at least until the next big storm rearranges the landscape again. For a couple of years, I watched people do surveys of the beach. It was pretty entertaining until they figured out just how much natural shifting the dunes, the beach and sandbars really do…but I grew up watching it. I often wonder why more people don’t take advantage of all the dunes up there and guerrilla camp. Wandering in the dunes, the sand that’s so white during the day makes it easy to find your way down the paths on the darkest nights. The fine white sand gets into everything, but feels amazing between your toes. There used to be huge bonfires all up and down the beach, but that’s against the law now so know that your night will be fireless for more than just surreptitiousness. Laying quietly in the dunes you’d be as amused as I am listening to the antics of people who don’t know you’re there. The unfiltered laughter is fun to hear. Don’t get it wrong, camping here is against the law but if you’re discreet and do no harm or damage I’m sure no one will care. Take the chance… It’s worth it.

Link to French version

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