"A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily In an evening of July --
In Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by…"
Excerpt from "Through the Looking Glass"
By Lewis Carroll
The initial impression that you form about people and places can very much depend on the context in which you first encounter them.
For example, if you happen across a coral reef while in the Caribbean, although beautiful in its own right, you are expecting it to be there, so it may very well fade into the background in rather short order.
Now, if you were to stumble onto something "coral reef like" in, for example, Northern Ontario, what may be common place elsewhere suddenly transforms into something rather extraordinary, and such is the place known as Wonderland.
When I first heard about Wonderland, given its co ordinates, my first thought was that the description was somewhat exaggerated, and the name rather pretentious, if not down right goofy. The more information I received, to quote Alice, "it just got curiouser and curiouser."
Your journey through the looking glass begins by travelling along a narrow, crystal clear stream. Long strands of aquatic grass stretch out horizontally just below the surface, gently swaying in the current, creating the illusion that you are drifting over an underwater prairie as you pass, and clusters of water lilies and wildflowers provide occasional splashes of colour along the way.
Making your way into Wonderland is not that difficult a task, although the local beavers have conspired to throw a few challenges your way. The first challenge these industrious rodents have created consists of a small dam that can usually be overcome by getting your boat onto plane, and hitting it dead centre. With any luck, and if you don't have second thoughts and slow down just before initial contact is made, you should skip right over the top. If you happen to throttle down beforehand, you will likely run aground, and then have to get out and push.
As for the second challenge, I would not recommend using the same approach. The Beavers decided to get serious, and constructed a far more substantial structure, and no manner of Evel Knievel type stunt, is going to get you safely across. Fortunately, there is a boat waiting just on the other side, so all you have to do is tie up, hop over the dam, and you will have made your way through the looking glass.
During my visit, I was welcomed not by a grinning Cheshire cat or maniacal March Hare, but rather by a magnificent Osprey, which based on a seemingly endless chorus of high-pitched cries, appeared less than enthusiastic to see me.
With a nest of young to feed, the last thing my "official greeter" wanted, was any competition for the resident population of Speckled Trout, but as I soon was to discover, there were more than enough to go around.
Wonderland consists of a series of five, interconnected ponds that are fed by underground artesian springs. Each pond features deep, cool, clear water with colours that vary from deep blue to teal and azure. One of the ponds is completely ringed by trees that come right down to the waters edge. The reflections of the trees, combined with numerous deadfalls that are visible beneath the surface of the water, combine to create a hypnotising mosaic of shapes, images and colours.
By now you must be wondering where my earlier reference to the coral reef fits in. A must see during your sojourn through Wonderland, are the underwater outlets for the artesian springs. The area surrounding each outlet is reminiscent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean and South Seas, albeit on a much smaller scale. Each time the wind ripples the surface of the water, the shapes and colours change. It's much like looking into a kaleidoscope - with every twist a new, and equally beautiful image is created.
Wonderland is not just a figment of someone's over active imagination. It really does exist, and in place that you would least expect to find it - but as to its exact location - you'll just have to ask Alice.