Landscape Tongues

Experimental text on the social life of the returning forests of Eastern Ontario.


Our story begins at the confluence of two massive riverine watersheds: the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence, which kneel most of North America’s freshwater down to the sea. Let us rise upland now from the flowing-together, from Montreal: along the wide fertile plains which lift slowly to the rocky knuckles of the Boreal Shield, the land between the rivers: The Upper Country – Le Pays d’en Haut, Kitakìnan, Tìr nan Craobhan. These are the rivers my ancestors would travel up to clear forest and farm. In and among the tracts of Sugar Maple, Elm, White Pine, and Hemlock there are still farms. There are still towns, mills and factories, suit stores on empty main streets, chip stands and the suburbs and streets of the capital.
Dionysos Dendrites grips his thyrsus.

But it is now a place of ghost towns: fallow, overgrown fields and boarded up gas stations along the winding roads. Successionary forests now cover stone walls and foundations, piles of farm machinery. This is its chief characteristic – at its core is insistent abandonment. After centuries of rapacious leveling, the region is seeing an overwhelming return of forests. This land is unceded from the Algonquin Anishinàbe First Nation – never signed away – who have had their massive land claim finally accepted for negotiation by the Crown. The implications of settler abandonment and subsequent sylvan regrowth are therefore vast.
A Memengweshiinh fleets just beyond a mossy footfall.
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‡ Published in .dpi Magazine, published by Studio XX (Montréal).