November 13, 2021

In challenging times such as these we come to appreciate even more the value and support of our Georgian Bay community. Whether we’re full-time residents, seasonal chalet/cottagers, weekend warriors or tourists, the one thing that binds us all together is our love for Georgian Bay and everything it adds to our lives.  

It was that pride in her Georgian Bay community that got Natalie Thompson to thinking last April as the waves of the Covid storm began washing up on our shores. Having had her second year at Brock University cut short and forced to study for final exams from her island cottage north of Honey Harbour, she and her family began to wonder if there wasn’t a better way to unite us all. To give us a better forum to share our stories, to support each other, and give back.

“We all love Georgian Bay so much and everything that it gives us. But I started to realize there wasn’t really anything that tied us all together,” remarked Natalie. “For sure, there are wonderful volunteer groups and agencies that work extremely hard for their very worthy causes. But on top of that there wasn’t anything that tied all of us together. That let us share our stories.  That let us find out what was going on around the Bay this weekend. That’s said I belong. I love Georgian Bay and I want to give back.”

So, it was with that in mind that Natalie and her family conceived We The Bay. “As we dug deeper and deeper into it we realized just how detached we were from each other.  Did you know that the two most Google searched items around Georgian Bay are ‘what time does the LCBO close’ and ‘the weather’?”, she goes on. “Not ‘what’s happening in Collingwood or Thornbury this weekend’ or ‘what fundraiser the local girl’s soccer team is doing’.  There just wasn’t a way to find out what our neighbours were up to.”

We The Bay aims to do all of that, and more. Natalie and her family have launched a website www.WeTheBay.ca where they post stories about Georgian Bay. Community events around the Bay. Links to each of our town’s current events. They ran a fundraiser to help the local Honey Harbour grocery store. And of course, a merchandise section where people can literally where their pride on their sleeve or coffee mug or dog bed and “represent”.

“Look, our community already exists.  We’re just trying to come up with a way to unite us all”, says Natalie.  Some proceeds from sales have been directed to such worthy causes as the Front Line Foundation and local Food Banks.  They also spend time and money promoting current events on social media and hope to grow the platform so that people can use it to promote their cause.

“Say a local volleyball team wants to raise money to go to the Finals in Calgary.  We The Bay could be the platform for them to advertise their cause. Create a hoodie or tee shirt with their name on it to sell online. And the profit from the sale of those items would go to the volleyball team,” she goes on.  “All the while promoting Georgian Bay and the love we have for her”.

It’s an ambitious cause and one with lots of challenges, but Natalie and her family are up to the task. A year and a half later they’re continuing to grow We The Bay.  “We’ve had a wonderful reaction. Just last week a woman emailed to ask if we had some material she could pass out in Killarney. So once people find out about it the switch flicks and they get it.”  Check it out at www.WeTheBay.ca




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