In July 1944, at three months old, I arrived at Sans Souci on the steamboat “Midland City” with my mother, Isabel LeBourdais. My father rowed a small boat over a kilometre to the community dock to pick us up. He was in the process of building a one-room cottage on an island my parents had purchased two years earlier. This was my introduction to Georgian Bay and “L’Islet” which would have a profound effect on my life.
L’Islet became my refuge, my sanctuary – so much the better without electricity, running water or telephone. I have many wonderful memories of happy summers boating, fishing and swimming in the pristine waters of Georgian Bay.
When I was 13, I had my own boat with a Johnson 10 h.p. engine. To me, this was like a teenager getting his first car. I could visit friends in nearby cottages, go fishing, and explore the many bays and channels among the nearby islands of Sans Souci.
When my daughter Lisa was growing up, she developed the same emotional attachment for L’Islet. It gave me great pleasure to be able to share with her the many delights I had known as a child.
For various reasons, my mother made the very difficult decision to sell L’Islet in 1987 (to the Bersanas family). Over the years, I often thought of L’Islet and how much it meant to me from my earliest memories throughout the first 43 years of my life. In 2003, my mother passed away shy of her 94th birthday and the next summer, with the kind cooperation of the Bersanas family, we scattered my mother’s ashes at L’Islet.
In 2019, Lisa (now Lisa Bower) told me she and her husband Matt were hoping to someday buy a Georgian Bay island. I was ecstatic. Lisa had introduced Matt to the Bay early in their relationship with a camping trip to Pomeroy Is., Sans Souci and he quickly became a convert. They looked at a few islands but nothing they liked. When COVID hit, fewer properties were on the market, and access was difficult (Lisa and Matt live in Michigan) so they knew it would take some time.
Just before Christmas 2021, with COVID lockdowns still in effect, Lisa and Matt surprised me with a slide presentation on Zoom showing me a Sans Souci island they had just purchased – less than two kilometres from L’Islet. Of course I was totally blown away.
We made our first visit to the island in late May. I look forward to sharing with my grandchildren the wonders and pleasures of Sans Souci and Georgian Bay. There are great areas for swimming, boating and exploring. The view to the west will provide spectacular sunsets. My four grandchildren will become 6th generation “Georgian Bayers”. And, oh yes, the name of the island – “Isabel Island.” It’s as if my mother’s “coming home” too.
Above: My mother with me and my younger sister Eleanor looking at the waves on L’Islet, (about 1950).
My grandchildren Owen, Ben, Noah and Lily on Isabel Island May 2022.