Ipperwash cottagers remain optimistic despite high waters and washed away beaches

You may have noticed high tides at some of your favourite southwestern Ontario beaches this summer. That’s because lake levels in many of the Great Lakes are the highest they’ve ever been, according to Environment Canada.

Some lakes have seen record high water levels, according to Environment Canada

Normally, only three posts are submerged. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

You may have noticed high tides at some of your favourite southwestern Ontario beaches this summer.

That's because lake levels in many of the Great Lakes are the highest they've ever been, according to Environment Canada.

Lake Huron, for example, reached a record high earlier this month when water levels rose 79 centimetres above average. Lake Erie's waters rose 83 centimetres above average.

According to Environment Canada, heavy rain is mainly to blame, among other factors including climate change and natural water cycles.

It's resulted in coastal erosion and washed away beaches in many areas including Ipperwash Beach along Lake Huron.

Some cottagers there say the conditions are bringing new challenges. However, they're encouraging the public to come out and enjoy what's left of summer.

Impacts of high waters

Al Hannahson has lived in his four-season cottage for about 15 years now. He's been vacationing in the area his whole life, he said.

Al Hannahson at his cottage steps away from Ipperwash Beach. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"There was always lots of beach but just recently the water has been rising yearly," he said. "We've had a beach before that was 100 or 150 feet wide. Now, the beach is 15 feet wide."

He said the lack of space has resulted in fewer people coming out to the beach.

Last year on a busy Sunday, the beach would attract up to 400 people. Today, that number has dropped to about 30.

Brenda Crump, who owns a cottage overlooking the water, said the sand dunes have been sucked back into the lake.

Londoner Brenda Crump is staying at her Ipperwash Beach cottage. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"I think there may be some property owners who are somewhat worried if it keeps on closing in," she said.

'Come and see us'

The high water levels shouldn't stop people from coming out to the beach, urged the cottagers.

Lydia Bloomfield, whose family owns a trailer nearby, said her spirits are high, just like the water levels.

Cottagers are remaining optimistic, despite challenges. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"I don't care," she said. "I'd still come down and find somewhere to sit. I love the beach… when you're down here, it just calms you, you forget about the hustle and bustle of work and everything."

"If it's a hot stinky day, come," encouraged Crump.

"It's very narrow so people are piling onto each other … But, everyone is getting along really well. Everybody is still having a great time and enjoying themselves," she said.

Lydia Bloomfield says she's hopeful water levels will recede. (Hala Ghoniam/CBC)

"The water will go back down … the lakes rise and fall," said Hannahson.

"We will get out beach back. So, don't forget about us. Come and see us," he said.

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