Knysh Family Time Capsule – A Culture of Water
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the heart of the Canadian prairies. About as far as you can get from water. So, how did my family come to have a “Culture of Water?”
Well, in 1981, while living in Toronto, I met a girl from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and married her. This forever connected me with water.
PEI, as it is more commonly known, is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the Atlantic Ocean, on the eastern coast of Canada. It is a relatively small island with a population of about 145,000 people. The island is crescent shaped, so you are never very far from water. And, if you don’t own a house on the water, you own a cottage that is on the water. Most people that live on PEI are either involved in fishing, farming or tourism, or some service industry supporting these activities. This means water is a big part of the islander’s lives, and a major attraction for the tourists.
PEI seems to have an umbilical cord attached to all of its residents. Even when they move away, there is still an uncontrollable urge to return annually to mother PEI. So, this began what is now over 30 years of annual treks back to PEI. And, for the past 21 years, that includes hauling kids, and when possible, the family dog.
The umbilical cord to PEI seems to stretch quite far. In 1988, we moved to California, and both of our girls were born there. Shortly after moving to California, we bought a cottage near Cavendish Beach, on New London Bay, PEI. So, we now have roots on both coasts.
The Photo Gallery
The following photo gallery includes a wide variety of photos from when my daughters were little children, to this past Christmas vacation. This include activities like tubing at Big Sur, swim meets, snorkeling in Mexico and Hawaii, SCUBA diving in Mexico and Hawaii, water polo games, playing on the beach, body surfing, kayaking in PEI and Hawaii, white water rafting, boating, paddle boarding, sailing, and whatever other water related photos I could find.
Sorry in advance, there are a lot of photos. But, there are at most a photo or two from each activity over the past 20 years or so. I had a tough time figuring what to leave out. Eventually, I felt that the shear volume of photos helped define and demonstrate the significance of water in our lives. The photo gallery was basically a chronology of my family over the past 20 years.
Our Culture of Water
The first time Jo-Anne took me to PEI, she excitedly took me to Cavendish Beach to show me the sand dunes and the red cliffs. It is a beautiful beach, with only one issue for the locals. It’s full of tourists. She then took me to Rustico Beach, where the locals go, and to the “Rock,” that is just a secluded spot on New London Bay where she and her friends would swim.
Rather than just having me tell you about our story, I asked my wife and daughters to add their thoughts.
For Jo-Anne, being born on PEI definitely shaped her life, …
- “Growing up on an island, beach activities were an important part of our summer lifestyle. The beach represents summer, fun, and freedom,” said Jo-Anne Knysh
While I didn’t grow up on the beach, as Jo-Anne did, I do appreciate how she feels about the ocean,
- “The rhythm of waves is very therapeutic with no beginning, middle or end,” said Jo-Anne Knysh
My earliest memory of Sara and the ocean is when she was 6 months old and we took her to PEI. We were sitting on the beach, and she kept trying to eat the sea weed. When she was a little older, I remember taking Sara to the local YMCA for swimming lessons. I would stand and watch through the large window into the pool. Many years later, I remember how excited she was when she could swim faster than her mother. Little did I know at the time that Sara, along with Jo-Anne and Alison, would swim the 2.5 miles across the San Francisco Bay from the Alcatraz Prison to San Francisco.
Here are Sara’s thoughts on growing up with water …
- “I’ve grown up constantly surrounded by the influence of water, and the beach has long been my favorite place to be,” said Sara.
- “Most memories of my family revolve around the water. From early days of white water rafting and leisurely tubing while camping, to Saturdays spent at swim meets: swimming with my sister, looking for my dad across the pool with a stopwatch in hand, and bugging my mom for dry towels.”
- “High school was the same – playing water polo in the fall and swimming in the spring. Looking back, I can’t remember a day in high school where my hair was dry for a whole day. Now at the University of Michigan, being so far away from the coasts, I realize how much water played a part in my life.”
Alison was probably the most submersed in water from birth. If I recall correctly, she was crawling around in the kids section of our neighborhood pool before she could even walk. Here are a couple of her memories:
- “I don’t remember learning to swim. Water has always been a part of my life and some of my fondest memories come from being near or in the water. I can’t imagine my life without it,” said Alison Knysh
- “Although we all have our separate lives and are traveling in different directions, our family always seems to be reconnected around water, whether it be sailing in Mexico or body surfing waves at the beach,” said Alison Knysh
In case you want a deeper look at our family’s water adventures, here is an underwater video of snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas this past Christmas.
Video of Snorkeling Cabo San Lucas
We spent this past Christmas in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. If you looked through the photo gallery, you already saw some photos from this trip. Here is a short underwater video of our snorkeling adventure off lands-end, the tip of the Baha California Peninsula near Cabo San Lucas.
Sharing our Culture and Tradition
I hope that you have enjoyed our family time capsule. If you want to develop a similar culture for your family, the photo gallery provides lots of examples of water-oriented activities that are fun, exciting, and will give your family something to share and talk about for a long time.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on our family culture and tradition. Even better, let me know if you have a similar culture or traditions that involve water. You can leave a comment below, and even upload a photo showing your family traditions.
Thanks for letting me share my family with you.