Celebrating Women's History Month: Marilyn Bell v. Lake Ontario

October 23, 2013

As mentioned in our previous post about Women's History Month, this year's theme is Canadian Women Pioneers. So it's only appropriate to discuss a woman who made a name for herself doing something no one else had done before, especially in an area typically dominated by men: sport. Writer Tanis Rideout, who weaved fact and fiction so beautifully in the novel Above All Things, does it again with Arguments with the Lake about swimmer Marilyn Bell.

See more details below

Blog_WHM_Header

 

ArgumentsCover_400

As mentioned in our previous post about Women’s History Month, this year’s theme is Canadian Women Pioneers. So it's only appropriate to discuss a woman who made a name for herself doing something no one else had done before, especially in an area typically dominated by men: sport.

Beginning with lessons at age 8 and entering her first long distance competition a year later, Marilyn Bell was the first person ever to successfully swim across Lake Ontario in 1954. And she did it by the time she was 16. Bell swam the 52 km distance from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto in 20 hours and 59 minutes, where she was greeted by about 300,000 people at the Canadian Exhibition.

Bell went on to be the youngest person to swim the English Channel in 1955 and, before retiring, she swam the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 1956.

Writer Tanis Rideout, who weaved fact and fiction so beautifully in the novel Above All Things, does it again with Arguments with the Lake (Wolsak & Wynn, 2013). However, this time she uses poetry and tells us the story of Marilyn Bell and a fictionalized rivalry between another young long distance swimmer, Shirley Campbell. While Marilyn was successful, receiving recognition and fame, Shirley fell short in her own attempts, causing her life to spiral out of control.

The relationship between Bell and Campbell may be fiction but the feelings of courage and adversity, physical exhaustion and endurance are real. So too are Rideout's observations on friendship and womanhood.

*****

Tanis Rideout lives in Toronto and was named the Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario by the environmental advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. You can follow her on Twitter, @tanisrideout, and read her interview with The Toronto Quarterly here.

For more information about Women's History Month visit the Government of Canada website.

*****

And now enjoy a poem from Aguments with the Lake, courtesy of Wolsak & Wynn.

AnotherMarilyn_90

_______

Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog


Discuss


comments powered by Disqus