Just tourists, you Islamophobe. On the other hand, their behavior was curious, and the site makes it even more so. “Curious tales emerge about site of lakeside 2010 G8 summit,” by Roy MacGregor for the Globe and Mail, August 25 (thanks to Anita):
HUNTSVILLE, ONT. “” ‘Creepy.” That is how just-turned-14-year-old Dara Howell describes her experience earlier this month on a beach directly opposite the Muskoka resort site that will host the 2010 G8 Economic Summit.
The Howell family is into a third generation of running popular Pow Wow Point Lodge, which sits on a small bay on Peninsula Lake across from sprawling Deerhurst Resort, where two years from now the soon-to-be-decided president of the United States will gather with the political heads of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Germany, Japan and, of course, Canada.
If you want a good view of Deerhurst, you can’t do better than Pow Wow.
On Friday, Aug. 8, a vehicle pulled into the Pow Wow parking lot and discharged six men, all dressed in what the locals would call “city clothes” – including dark slacks and leather-soled dress shoes.
Without bothering to check with the office, they went down to the beach and began taking photographs of each other, each time with Deerhurst – including the cupola that rides over the main building – in the background.
“All I can say,” says Doug Howell, Dara’s father and the current lodge owner, “is that it was strange. So out of character for Pow Wow. And believe me, we get a lot here.”
Stereotyping happens easily in Cottage Country, where city slickers are instantly recognized, locals are often patronized and heritage carries its usual, if politically incorrect, clichÃ©s. The lodge caters heavily to German tourists, so punctuality and organized activity play large at Pow Wow, as do tales of convoys of Japanese tourists coming in the fall to photograph a single maple that turns a particular shade of red.
These six English-speaking men appeared to be of Middle-Eastern origin. But what really set them apart was their complete unfamiliarity with a beach. It was not only their unlikely dress, but a sense that they were “faking” play in order to pose for photographs.
Told this wasn’t a public beach, the men asked if it was all right if they just “hung out” for a while. Told they’d need to take a room in order to stay, they asked for a single room – one bed – and paid by credit card. The six men – one very young, the others in their 30s and 40s – returned to their “play,” at one point attempting to paddle a towing tube around the docks.
They asked to be taken out on the lodge’s pontoon boat, which is usually used for the evening “Moonlight Cruise.” Dara Howell, who happened to be at the waterfront, checked and was told if they paid for the gas she could. She was caught off guard when only one of the men boarded.
Unsure what to do, she continued on. The man asked that she encircle completely the point on which Deerhurst lies and, at each opening, take a photograph of him, with Deerhurst always in the background. “It was creepy,” she says. “He wanted pictures from all the way around – and always two pictures. It was weird.” At 5 p.m. it began to rain. By 5:30 the men had packed back into their vehicle and left, room and bed untouched.
As the stories poured into the small lodge office, Doug Howell began to wonder what this had been all about: could there be any connection to the G8? One of his staff warned him to beware of “racial profiling” and he decided to let it go. But when he couldn’t sleep for wondering, he finally contacted the local detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police, who immediately called the RCMP, who were very interested in the details.
Unfortunately, there were hardly any. No one had photographed the men. No one had written down the licence plate. All they had was a credit card number, with no idea where it could lead – and no sense, really where this strange tale leads at all, if anywhere….