Dead Dog at Stone

Mixed media on birch panel, 48" x 36"

There's a place I like to walk, run, sometimes canoe, and just generally hang around to repair my senses. It runs under a fairly busy road called Stone, but underneath, under a thick ceiling of concrete, with water gurgling softly over a floor of slate sloughed clean during the Ice Age and the rush of long grass and thicket, it's quiet, calm - a cocoon in an otherwise frenetic mid-sized town.

Beside this modern crossing sits a second bridge, about a stone's throw away, decommissioned now but still in place, en garde. It's a bowstring, but also made of concrete, one of the first of its kind, built in 1915 according to the Supreme Being, Google. This bridge in turn rests on top of what was once a covered wooden bridge, probably the first built at this crossing of the river. The wooden beams have long returned to the earth but sensing the ghost of it isn't hard.

Nearby is a wilderness camp owned by the Boy Scouts, that organization founded a century ago to re-instill manly values in emasculating youth. My kids have been to summer camp there and swear they really teach you how to catch crayfish.

The river is called the Eramosa, a name I'd always thought must have come from somewhere in the Latin realms. Wikipedia, though, says it's an anglicization of "um-ne-mo-sah," in the Mississaugan language, "dead dog." So, the Dead Dog River.

I've never seen a dead dog in the river, but the thought raises a yearning in me to know more about the story.

And this, is it not, the goal of any good, meaningful, responsible toponym?

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