COSEE Great Lakes has selected Paddle-to-the-Sea as a working theme for its program approach and sequence. The phrase comes from the title of an award winning children’s book (Holling, 1941, 1969), the story of a carved wooden Indian in a canoe, set adrift in the snow melting into Lake Superior and winding its way through the cultural, environmental and geographic settings of the entire region, to finally cross the Atlantic Ocean!

Six decades of young readers have absorbed the remarkable story. We use it now to guide the COSEE Great Lakes to its connection with the sea. Like the book, the project will deal with progressions:

  • from freshwater to salt,
  • from watershed to sea;

…and with progress:

  • from historical water quality issues to current challenges,
  • from traditional science methods to GLOS technology,
  • from fragmented management to an ecosystem approach.

Changes over time and changes over distance will characterize the content and methods of the Great Lakes COSEE.

“Now I will tell you something!’ said the boy to the little figure in the canoe. I have learned in school that when this snow in our Nipigon country melts, the water flows to that river. The river flows into the Great Lakes, the biggest lakes in the world. They are set like bowls on a gentle slope. The water from our river flows into the top one, drops in the next, and on to the others. Then it makes a river again, a river that flows to the Big Salt Water. …You will go with the water and you will have adventures that I would like to have.”
–Holling, 1969, Ch.2