Letter: For goodness sake, stay the blazes away

A note from a Manitoulin Island-phile

To the Expositor:

Manitoulin Island is certainly a place of delight, pleasure and peace to so many people. Residents, visitors, tourists and seasonal dwellers have long appreciated the charms and character of this very special place. The attractions are many, the beauty of the landscapes, the history bound up in the architecture, the wildlife and calm waters of its lakes and shorelines and of course its other treasure–the people–from all walks of life, nationalities including the First Peoples with their colourful celebrations, friendship and ancient customs. 

Sadly, the unwelcome forces of the COVID-19 pandemic have placed a tremendous burden on all society where ever you may be. Over the many years of history of Manitoulin Island a delicate balance of needs (and some wants) has evolved. Especially to provide for the health needs and requirements of everyone on the Island–under normal circumstances. Normality no longer exists.

However, the intrusion of the terrible COVID-19 virus to Manitoulin can and would have devastating consequences. It does not take much imagination to realize that the health care resources have their limitations which could be very quickly overwhelmed. There are many vulnerable people residing there including those in the long-term care homes. Further, more specialized expert care amenities are a considerable distance from the Island. So any intrusion of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences to all concerned including the more casual or even seasonal visitors. And we must never overlook the risks taken by the healthcare workers and first responders.

Unfortunately, too many people like myself may and should have to forgo their trip, visit or even seasonal stay on Manitoulin for this year at least. For many this will be a tremendous sacrifice. Businesses that rely on the influx of people “from away” suffer tremendously as many people have put their life savings into their enterprises and rely on the anticipated arrival of potential customers and clients. Since 1969 my family and I have looked forward to our annual Thanksgiving vacation and celebration on Manitoulin Island–there is no better place in the world for such a celebration. And the many activities that are so much part of Island life will be missed–at least this year. So many Haweaters (and would be Haweaters) put so much of themselves into the many and various events, celebrations and community services and cultural celebrations. So many will be affected.

So, for this year please, unless there is no other choice stay away as I am. This would be my wish and hope for the well-being of all the people of Manitoulin Island so that we can rejoice together knowing that we have all contributed in preserving the safety of the people and place that we hold so dear. And rest assured, Manitoulin Islanders will not be forgotten because where else could you obtain the very purest of honey, the delights of the Chocolate Factory, the little restaurants and eateries, the annual Gore Bay Rotary Club Charity Produce Auction, the boat trips, the walks on the Providence Bay boardwalk in the moonlight, the Cup and Saucer Trail, the powwows, star watching, and much more, especially the people.

Stay safe and be safe–we are all in this together.

Lionel Rudd