Research Paper: Blue Mountain

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Blue Mountain

Big White on Blue Mountain

Canada's Blue Mountain is defined by its geography: If it were not where it is and what it is than it would be far poorer economically, not to mention also aesthetically. In fact, the economic and the aesthetic are one and the same: The Blue Mountain is a ski resort, something that could never be the case if it had not been sculpted by its geographic past to meet the needs of modern-day skiers and snowboarders. However, as this paper analyzes as it considers the past and present of this piece of Ontario real estate, the qualities that make Blue Mountain an attractive ski resort would matter much less, and potentially not even at all, if it were not close to a population center.

A ski resort has little appeal if it is not close enough to a population base to attract enough people to make it economically worthwhile. Over the last half century the mountain has become a major snow resort and has even begun to attract summer visitors as hikers and campers, although it remains primarily a winter destination. While other mountains in the area provide ski-able runs, Blue Mountain has become the center of the area's skiing facilities both because of the ski runs themselves as well as because of the fact that the mountain possesses a beauty that makes people connect with it in ways that extend beyond the utilitarian.

Blue Mountain's closest town is Collingwood, which itself is located in the Canadian province of Ontario. In terms of the geography of the entire area, the town and the mountain are in the neighborhood of Nottawasaga Bay and Georgian Bay. The region is marked as much by its waterscape as it is by the mountains. The Georgian Bay is home to what are traditionally known as the "30,000 Islands." Many of these islands, despite their small size, are inhabited, at least in the summer. Parry Island is the largest Island in the world that lies in the middle of a freshwater body. In both the watery and mountainous parts of the landscape, humans take advantage of the beauties of the natural world and especially of the snow-bound landscape of the winter (Campbell, 2005).

The region is relatively rural with a relatively low density of population. Perhaps because the current human population is not as dense as it is in other parts of Ontario, the footprint of the original Ojibwa people remains close to the surface. Even the original place names of Blue Mountain and other natural features of the region remain in use (Walker, 1996, p. 145).

While the way in which the land tends to be used by the people who live there now is a way that separates the water from the land, this was not always the case. The native people who lived in the region before it was settled by European immigrants would have traveled over the land and interacted with it in a way that demonstrated their understanding that the water and the mountains o the region were joined together.

Georgian Lake is connected to the major freshwater system of Canada. It connects to Lake Ontario via Port Severn. Because of its integration into the large watershed of Lake Ontario, Lake Georgian has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The UNESCO designation is based on the following criteria that assess the ways in which natural resources and rarity intersect with human use and value:

Concerned with problems at the interface of scientific, environmental, societal and development issues, MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and safeguard natural ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that is socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

Sub-programmes and activities focus on specific ecosystems: mountains; drylands; tropical forests; urban systems; wetlands; and marine, island and coastal ecosystems. Interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration, research and capacity -- building are promoted. (UNESCO)

The fact that the neighboring lake is a part of such a protected area has implications for Blue Mountain. There is nothing unique about Blue Mountain itself, at least in terms of the way it was formed and the way that it looks. The reason that Blue Mountain is unique in the eyes of those who love it is something that cannot be measured in any objective way but is something beyond that.

This is hardly surprising since there are very few places in the world that are unique in any significant way. However, the fact that Blue Mountain is connected to an entire geographic system that has been designated as having worldwide significance is part of its overall value. One of the questions that this project while address is the extent to which Blue Mountain's value (economically, environmentally, and aesthetically) is affected by being a part of such a UNESCO designated zone and to what extent Blue Mountain contributes to the region in turn.

Blue Mountain is Unique, but Also a Part of its Environment

Blue Mountain, while it (like all mountains) stands alone it must be considered from a geographic perspective as a part of its larger range. Mountains are more likely, it can be argued, to be perceived as more apart from the landscape around it than any other kind of geographic or geological feature because of their defining feature of reaching up to the sky. (Indeed, surely there is a relationship between this feature of mountains and the cross-cultural association of mountains and heaven.) However, every mountain is connected as much as any other landform to the features around it. We can forget this all too easily when only one mountain among many has its own name, for the fact that we can give something a name makes it seem special.

Balanced against this elevation of Blue Mountain above its neighbors in terms of designating its beauty as special is the very mundane and decidedly commercial way in which the mountain is being sold as a ski resort. The resort is at once held up as a beacon of natural beauty and as a place where human-created comforts are the most important aspect:

A great line up of family activities will be taking place both on and off the mountain all week long. Lift tickets will be $39 for all elementary & high school students, get up to Blue Mountain and enjoy the school break! (Blue Mountain Skiing)

Thus Blue Mountain must be considered as a part of the larger Niagara Escarpment if one wants to understand the way in which this mountain developed. This escarpment crosses the international boundary between Canada and the United States: An important reminder that geography and geology are never stopped by political boundaries. This escarpment runs in a more-or-less direct east-west line from New York State through Ontario and onward to Michigan and to Illinois.

The escarpment is connected at a fundamental level at the bottom all along the way. Because it is connected at a level that individuals cannot necessarily see as they observe it, they may well not be aware of the geological connection of the escarpment. Geologists and other trained scientists can see the ancient connections, but most others cannot (Harris,1987).

The Niagara Escarpment in fact looks very different from one portion to another, and that is another question that this project will address: To what extent does the Blue Mountain connect to the rest of the escarpment in terms of how people who live in the area understand it? Do people who live in the area perceive it as a separate entity or do they see it as a part of a larger geological range? This is an important question in terms of geography as opposed to geology.

There is no doubt at all that the Blue Mountain is a part of the larger escarpment. But geography is not the same as geology. Geology is a fact-based study of the earth's actually structure while geography takes into account not only political structures (such as national boundaries) as well as the psychology of a place. Blue Mountain can be described in one way as a part of the geology of the reason but it can be described just as well as part of the way in which the people of Ontario value their landscape.

For people who live and vacation in the area, Blue Mountain is special and unique but for scientists it is one part of a larger part of the earth's structure. This can also be explained as the difference between geography, which includes the ways in which people see and lay claim to particular parts of the world, and geology, which is a scientific view that does not pay attention to other factors. Neither view is more right or more wrong, but there are important differences between the two.

A Part of a Much Larger Structure

The Niagara Escarpment -- named, of course, for the Niagara Halls, is defined by a series of cliffs,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Blue Mountain."  Essaytown.com.  March 14, 2012.  Accessed July 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/blue-mountain/6006275.