Peter Steel (April 1941 to Feb 22, 2019) aged 77 was one of the world’s foremost champions for Living or raw water. He died in his off-grid forest home this week. The solar-powered home is located deep inside a forest in Powassan, Nipissing –– an area of Canada remote enough to be very uncomfortable to most city people. Peter, who played the role as Grampa Gnome, would dress up like a gnome and throw fairy dust on every piece of art he created. But in reality he took on the most serious mission: spreading the importance of connecting to nature, upholding femininity, connection to one’s God, and to protecting the most divine gift us humans can enjoy: living water.
Living or “raw” water is a new craze in California startups are trying to commercialise on.
Peter had known for decades that raw water endowed a special quality to the awareness of people and place. He left the commercial world of business and sales in his 30s to live off grid and spread the importance of protecting and nurturing source water. People came from all over the world to meet Peter and drink the special water that emerged from the Canadian Shield in Nipissing.
Peter had lived in and tended to Gnome-Land for over 40 years. This was his off-grid paradise he had created in Northern Ontario, which he shared with his life partner Jeanne Raven Cote pictured below.
Photo by Raven
Together they protected and embraced ancient source water billions of years old as it emerged through rocks of their 75-acre forest. They have a number of springs on their land and people from all over the world, including princes and princesses, have made pilgrimages to drink their water.
Living water, raw water, 4 degree water, or source water comes from artesian springs deep below ground. The Canadian Shield is one of the world’s largest geologic continental shields, centred on Hudson Bay and extending for 8 million square km over eastern, central, and northwestern Canada from the Great Lakes to the Canadian Arctic and into Greenland. It makes up about 50% of Canada’s land mass and was created about 2.5 billion years ago. Much of the rock exposed now in the Canadian shield used to be buried deep below the earth. It contains important minerals and elements and is believed to be protecting one of the last natural sources of “original” water from the earth’s early days of creation.
Peter saw living water as a source to enlightenment, that by drinking this water one could reach paths to inner knowing, healing and growth, and connection to other human beings and life forces on this planet.
I drank the water and became a believer. Being with Peter and in his forest made me feel the Sabbath any day of the week.
Photo by Raven
Some people believe that because source water has never before recycled through human pollution, it is extra healthy for you. Others hint that it may contain ancient bacteria or a special kind of “light” energy that can activate certain metabolic pathways in your stomach, body and mind.
I had heard rumors over the years about the “weirdos” who were living in the forest in Powassan surviving on the minimum. Soon, I would learn about source water through them. Two summers ago after deciding to spend a month in the wild at the old homestead my family owns in a very remote area of Nipissing, I finally had the courage to ask a local to introduce me to the couple. We gave Peter a call and he said to come right over.
I was met by a man in barefoot wearing red overall shorts, the sun smiling through his teeth. He greeted me as though our souls had been waiting for thousands of years to meet. And I think they were. Peter taught me about water in the Nipissing region, once home to a vast population of Anishinaabe First Nations people. Nipissing comes from the Anishinaabe word Nibii(n)sing, which means “at the little water”. He introduced me to some friends and his life partner Jeanne would quickly become my mentor.
Although he appeared to not need many followers, I was looking for a new guru and agreed to conspire with him over protecting source water and spent the next few weeks with him and Raven. Through the both of them I learned about how consciousness creation comes through what you feed both your body and mind. And that one’s environment very much influences the reality that you will create for yourself and others. While this seems like New Age practice 101, maybe even 100% bullshit, I never really felt such a spiritual connection to my homeland of Canada until I met Peter and his dear partner Raven, who is also part First Nations.
I decided I would make a movie about them and spent weeks taking footage almost every day. Through them I met a community of extraordinary people so different in every possible way.
As a first generation Canadian, I sort of always felt like a landed immigrant. Through Peter and his living water, imbibing it, connecting with the source and the land mass that houses it, I realized a sense of belonging inside and out to where I had come from and where I was going.
While there are a great number of Living Water freshwater springs spitting out water all over the Nipissing region, with an excellent spring “free for the taking” source roadside in the village of Trout Creek (I’d been drinking that since I was 12), Peter always believed that his spring had a pureness of quality to it. Perhaps it was the location high on the hill or the stewards who had breathed importance and life into the water and land over the last decades.
I will never know probably in my lifetime if Living Water is scientifically better for you than any old spring water. But since meeting Peter and Raven I have come to feel that paradise can exist on earth if you choose to create it. And that the bounty that nature provides is enough to fill any human being with a sense of purpose. I managed to see Peter for the last time this past summer. My dad was sick. Soon we would find out he was dying, and Peter welcomed us in his home as he always did, even without phoning beforehand. He was more subdued than when I had known him the year earlier. And I had too much on my mind, and not enough time.
“You are in time and on time,” Peter would always say to me, over and over again like a mantra, always playing with words, with numbers, mystic realities and concepts borrowed from all world religions and histories, working to bend reality and perception but also to connect to every soul being that he met through something they were culturally tied to. It’s hard to fathom that he would not live forever.
In the last year Peter started playing around on Instagram where you can see some of his feminine nature, and devotion to living water “awareness” creation.
Peter for me was a mystical experience, a person who is simply divine and sent from God. He helped me find ways to see God in every person. Peter altered the course of my life. If you are lucky to have met him you will know what I mean. He could talk to you about flaws in science, God’s handiwork, and mainly about our universal need to connect to ourselves, to each other and the God inside us. The last time I spoke with Peter by phone I asked him what I should do, what we should do to save the world. He told me that we don’t need to save anything; just to get out in nature, drink Living Water and the rest will be clear.