nature, Poetry, travel

Canadian Rivers

North Saskatchewan River, Saskatchewn, Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly)

It’s almost Canada Day and today, when some Canadian rivers are in the news due to the danger of flooding, I share a poem celebrating these beautiful waterways of Canada.


Headwaters drip from snowy melt of mountain glaciers
gurgle down glistening rock faces in nameless rivulets.
Fed by rain and sibling trickles they become sinuous streams
adolescent-eager in descent, unafraid to dash against boulders
froth into canyons, course over rock beds till they reach the flat.

Waterfall in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick, Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly)

Mature and strong they gouge valleys, meander through meadows
nurture forests, bears and eagles, rejuvenate farms and hamlets
flow regal yet restless through villages and cities
under bridges and over tunnels
ever pressing on to an ocean destination.

Columbia River, flowing through Revelstoke, B.C., Canada – photographed from Revelstoke Mountain (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

The watermark of veins, arteries and capillaries on our maps
they carve their initials, scrawl their signatures
all over Canada: Snake, MacKenzie, Coppermine
Exploits, Hillsborough, Saint John, Margaree, Moisie
St. Lawrence, Red, Qu’Appelle, Athabasca, Cowichan…

Serpentine River, Surrey, B.C. Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

Named by Indians and explorers for Indians and explorers
they inscribe the plot lines of our history
hide the gold and call the salmon
propel the ferries, carry the logs, barges and ships
pave thoroughfares for tugboats, speedboats, kayaks, canoes.

Tugboat on the Fraser River, Langley, BC, Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

We settle beside them for their sustenance and beauty
feel betrayed when, with spring-fevered earthlust
their swift-flowing waters bite off chunks of our land.
Then we fear them, dredge them, soil them,
treat them, dyke them, dam them.

The South Saskatchewan River flows through Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly)

I have toe-squished the mud of the South Saskatchewan
pulled Jackfish from the North
been awed by the Hell’s Gate fierceness of the Fraser
spied loons and cormorants gulping fish in the Nicomekl
otters cavorting in the Serpentine

A quiet day on the Nicomekl River, Surrey, B.C. Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

driven miles beside the Thompson
as it winked at me through clearings
admired the canyons carved by the Bulkley
dreamed the legends of the Kispiox
listened from a tent to the night secrets of the Skeena …

Kicking Horse River, Golden, B.C. Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

Oh for more lifetimes
to make them all mine.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

Vedder River, near Chilliwack, BC, Canada (Photo © 2022 by V. Nesdoly).

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