Tomorrow, Sunday July 3 (the day before Juno arrives at Jupiter, on a feat never before undertaken) you can slide out of the future and into the past at the unveiling of a plaque at Oxtongue Lake.
Well, actually, it's happening at the MNR parkette on Hwy 60, just past the Wolf Den Hostel, at the river's edge. It will honour David Thompson.
David Thompson was one of the greatest surveyors in history. Known by First Nations as Koo Koo Sint (The Stargazer), he traveled some 90,000 kilometers across North America, mapping some 4.9 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) of the country along the way.
Among that 4.9 million sq. kms was the Lake of Bays, Oxtongue River (he knew it as North River) and Oxtongue Lake. Traveling upstream along the Oxtongue, he didn't have a lot of nice things to say about that tumbling watercourse, joyfully leaping out the Park and descending over a long chain of impressive rapids and waterfalls. It is pretty much one long portage, interrupted by a few sections of upstream paddling...
All the same, the beauty of that river and this region captivated and energized the Group of Seven artists, and to this day attracts visitors from around the world. When Europeans dream of Canada it is this sort of wild landscape and water that inhabits their dreams.
Thompson died in obscurity in Montreal -- it seems to be quite true that people don't value what they have until they no longer have it. It took a century for Canada to awaken to the fact that his accomplishments should be celebrated -- and they have been, in postal stamps, plaques, memorials.
It is a wonderful thing that we will now have a plaque 'of our own' to remind us that this amazing geographer walked along this river, paddled along these lakes (with his Metis wife of 58 years and his 13 children often with him!)
Come on out Sunday, and be walk in the steps of history.
Then, on Monday, you can sit glued to the tube watching for updates from Nasa on Juno, the satellite that has been 5 years reaching its destination among the planets. The satellite that (hopefully, if the 20million rads don't fry it first) will map the giant planet, in an act of surveying never yet undertaken.
The future... right next door to the past... as it has always been. The sense of exploration, the need to know more, to go farther is still there.