Canada has many large lakes, but which is the biggest? According to www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca, “Lake Superior, located on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, is the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area.” This massive lake has a surface area of 82,414 square kilometers! In second place is Lake Huron, which has a surface area of 59,600 square kilometers.
These vast lakes are all incredibly important to Canada, both environmentally and economically. They provide homes for a wide variety of wildlife and support many industries, including fishing, tourism, and shipping. So next time you’re out enjoying a beautiful Canadian lake, take a moment to appreciate its size and importance!
The largest lakes in Canada in detail
There may be as many as 2 million lakes in Canada. Although some look like minor scratches on the tremendous white surface of our country, many are quite large. Nearly 14% of the world’s lakes with surface areas more significant than 500 km2 are located in Canada. Below is a list of the larger lakes based purely on their surface area and not just the portion within Canadian borders. The list is ordered by size, not least to most excellent or vice versa, due to their large sizes.
1. Lake Superior: 82,100 km2
At 82,100 km2, Lake Superior is Canada’s largest lake. It’s so big that it even has its mini-climate! The lake’s average depth is 147 m, but it goes down to a depth of over 400 m in some areas. That’s pretty deep! The lake is home to many fish, including walleye, sturgeon, and pike. There are over 80 different species of fish in the lake. Can you imagine fishing in a place with many different kinds of fish? It would be amazing! And if you’re looking for a breathtaking view, Lake Superior has it. The shores of the lake are lined with rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. There are also lots of islands to explore. With all there is to see and do, it’s no wonder that Lake Superior is such a popular destination for tourists.
Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the world. It contains more water than all the other Great Lakes combined (12,100 km3) and goes by many names, among them Kitchi-gummi (meaning “great lake” or “great water”) and Lac Supérieur (meaning “upper lake”), after being named so by the French, as it is the most northern of the Great Lakes.
Over 300 rivers and streams feed Lake Superior, including the Nipigon River (from Lake Nipigon), St Louis River, Pigeon River (which forms part of the US-Canada border), Pic River, White River, Michipicoten and Kaministiquia River. The lake discharges via the St Marys River into Lake Huron. Lac Supérieur was called Kitchi-gummi by the Ojibwa (meaning “great water”) and Lac Supérieur by the French. It is the most northern of the Great Lakes.
The birth of Lake Superior can be traced back to the geology of the Midcontinent Rift. This rift left a deep scar over 1,450 miles from eastern Lake Superior to southern Kansas. Massive glaciers gouged out the lavas and sandstones of this rift, but the crystalline igneous rocks were more resistant and were left to form the margins of the lake basin. When it was time for these last great glaciers, like Wisconsin, to retreat about 11,000 years ago, it began flooding with meltwaters that had filled up the scoured-out core of this rift. By 6000 BCE Lake Superior was free of ice. The lake is home to two large islands: Isle Royale, which is in US national park, and Michipicoten, in Canadian waters.
2. Lake Huron: 59,600 km2
At nearly 60,000 km2, Lake Huron is Canada’s second-largest lake. It’s also the world’s seventh-largest freshwater lake and the third-largest of the Great Lakes. Located between Ontario and Michigan, Lake Huron is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities. The lake is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including several species of fish, birds, and mammals.
Lake Huron comprises four interconnected bodies of water; the main lake, Saginaw Bay, the North Channel, and Georgian Bay. Manitoulin Island is located in Lake Huron at its north end; it’s home to six Anishinabek First Nations: Sheguiandah, Aundeck Omni Kaning, M’Chigeeng, Zhiibaahaasing, Sheshegwaning, and Wiikwemkoong.
Lake Huron is a 59,600 km2 lake in Canada with an elevation of 176 meters and a maximum depth of 229 meters. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes and the fifth-largest lake in the world according to total shoreline length. In Canada, Lake Huron includes traditional territories of the Tionontati (Petun), Neutral, Huron-Wendat, and Anishinaabe peoples. Samuel de Champlain visited Georgian Bay and Lake Huron with Étienne Brûlé in 1615.
There are four interconnected bodies of water that makeup Lake Huron. Those are the main lake, Saginaw Bay, the North Channel, and Georgian Bay. The Straits of Mackinac, St. Marys, Mississagi, Saginaw, and French Rivers are significant inflows. One large outflow from Lake Huron is through the St. Clair River and into Lake St. Clair, which eventually discharges into the Detroit River. The Mackinac Bridge spanned these two lakes when it was completed in 1957. It was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, connecting Michigan’s upper peninsula to southern Ontario at that time. It remains one of the longest in existence today even still today.
If you want to understand the massive variation in weather that this lake has, it’s important to understand how its basin formed. The effort to make an effort has been ongoing for a long time – and it’s not over yet. The lake lies on an ice age-formed basin with ancient Precambrian shield rock and Phanerozoic rock formations. 2,000-3,000 years ago, the basin was still new and developing when clouds from the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans converged around what we now know as Lake Superior. This brought more moisture onto the basin through natural rainstorms and swelled so that Canada’s side of the basin is primarily covered in mixed forests consisting of oak, hickory, maple, oak, birch, and hemlock.
The North Basin is an isolated, undeveloped area with a few settlements engaged in exploiting forest and mineral resources. Southern settlements are founded on lumbering and agriculture. Important industries include mining, pulp and paper, food processing, chemical production, transport equipment, and metal fabricating. Sudbury – the center of the mining and smelting industry – is this area’s only major urban center. One of the world’s largest nuclear power plants is Douglas Point on the Bruce Peninsula. The lake supports commercial fishing (whitefish, perch, walleye, chub) and sport fishing (bass, perch, walleye, pike). The Canadian side of Lake Huron is renowned for its scenic beauty. The North Channel and Georgian Bay shorelines provided subject matter for several Group of Seven painters. Excellent beaches extend from the Bruce Peninsula to Sarnia. The basin offers vast waters for swimming, boating, and camping.
3. Great Bear Lake: 31,328 km2
Great Bear Lake is the world’s fourth-largest lake by surface area, totaling 31,328 km2. It is located in the northwest corner of Canada and is home to various fish, including the giant kokanee salmon. The lake is also known for its cold temperatures, with an average surface temperature of only 4 degrees Celsius.
Though it’s not the largest, Great Bear Lake is the third-largest lake inside Canadian borders. Located in the Northwest Territories, it’s made up of five arms with their names: Dease, McTavish, McVicar, Keith, and Smith. The legend of Yamoria tells of giant heroes, animals, and living landscapes.
Great Bear Lake is located in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It measures 31,328 km2 and is the largest lake entirely inside any country’s borders. It is also the fourth-largest lake in North America and the eighth-largest in the world. At this time, water flows out of Great Bear Lake into The Great Bear River, which then flows into the Mackenzie River. The lake has 5 arms: Dease, McTavish, McVicar, Keith, and Smith.
The Arctic circle is located directly north of the Dease Arm. This means it’s generally daylight here during the summer months. Great Bear Lake spans between the Canadian Shield and Interior Platform, the northern boreal forest, and the tundra. The eastern shores of the lake offer steep cliffs, many islands, and fjord-like bays. The west shores of the lake are flatter, with rich spruce forests and large stretches of muskeg. The main elevation on this side of the lake is created by Mount Scented Grass, with Grizzly Mountain beside it.
Great Bear Lake is fed by nutrient-poor rivers that run through less-productive land, which, combined with a small watershed, colder temperatures, and incredible depth (when it reaches its deepest point at 452 meters), means it can’t support many plants and fish species. Of Canada’s large lakes, Great Bear Lake has the fewest number of different fish species (only 16). Because the fish do not migrate much within the lake, its 5 arms are home to unique populations.
4. Great Slave Lake: 28,568 km2
It is located in the Northwest Territories, between 60 and 65 degrees north latitude and114 and 118 degrees west longitude. The lake has an area of 28,568 km2 and a maximum depth of 614 m. It is drained by the Mackenzie River, which flows into the Arctic Ocean via the Beaufort Sea. Great Slave Lake is frozen for about half the year; ice break-up usually occurs in late May or early June.
The lake was created during the last ice age when a giant glacier dammed up its southern end. The resulting freshwater lake is one of the deepest lakes in North America. Great Slave Lake is home to several fish species, including walleye, northern pike, and whitefish.
Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake, by surface area, entirely within Canadian borders, and can be found south of Great Bear Lake. It is known for having North America’s deepest lake, and it has been given the name “Slave” from the word “Slavey”, which was often used to describe a significant group of Dene people who lived in this region.
The Great Slave Lake is located in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It was formed at the end of the Wisconsinan glaciation, which occurred around 10,000 years ago. As glaciers retreated, lakes filled to create a freshwater lakes. However, rivers and streams also contributed to this lake’s water level. Water still drains out of the lake westward towards Fort Providence (Zhati Koe).
The East Arm of this large, northern lake is distinctive because it lies in the Canadian Shield. The East Arm is unique from other neighboring lakes because of many islands, complex shorelines, and deep waters. This lake stands out as one of North America’s deepest lakes (614 meters) compared to other large lakes. Creating a national park that would encompass the East Arm has been proposed due to this rare distinction.
The most common fish in Great Slave Lake are lake whitefish, lake trout, and cisco. These fish live throughout the entire lake, but there are some variations. For example, the whitefish don’t tend to swim in the deep bays but live comfortably in very shallow, relatively cool areas. Lake trout and grayling are most populous in East and North arms. Warm, shallow waters found on the southern shore and near Behchokö provide rich habitats for goldeye, white suckers, and walleye.
Great Slave Lake is the ninth-largest and one of the youngest lakes, but despite its size, it has a very notable climate. Jack pine and spruce are most common, with woods that are more densely packed near the shoreline. The lake impacts the local temperatures, allowing for longer growing seasons than regions farther away from its waters. Most often, Great Slave Lake freezes over in late November and stays frozen until mid-to-late May. By June, it’s usually thawed out, and calmer weather sets in by mid-summer. In fall, these periods can vary as stormy weather becomes more common towards November, often blowing in without warning.
5. Lake Erie: 25,700 km2
Lake Erie is the smallest of the five Great Lakes in terms of surface area, but it is still an impressive 25,700 km2. It is located entirely within North America and is shared by the United States and Canada. The lake has a long history and was an essential part of the early settlement of North America. Today, it remains an integral part of both countries’ economies and ways of life. The lake is home to many different species of fish, and its clear waters make it a popular destination for swimming, boating, and fishing.
Lake Erie is the smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was declared dead. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake, primarily from detergents and agricultural fertilizers, accelerated phytoplankton growth, such as algae. The algae grew at the lake’s surface and limited sunlight and oxygen to the animals living on its bottom, as seen in this drone footage. Wildlife disappeared or declined due to a lack of these resources. But thanks to some efforts from 1972 onwards, Lake Erie is again healthy!
Lake Erie is the second smallest of The Great Lakes, including islands. It is located on the United States and Canada border, with a surface area of 25,700 km² (including islands). Of that number, 12,800 km² are situated in Canada. Its elevation is 173.3 m. It has a length of 388 km while its width measures 92 km, and its average depth is 64 m. This lake receives most of its waters from Lake Huron via the Detroit River. The Maumee and Cuyahoga rivers contribute to its size in Ohio and the Grand River through Ontario. Leaving through Niagara Falls, it falls almost 100 m until it meets with Lake Ontario, where it joins via the Welland Canal.
The Lake Drainage Basin measures 58,800 km² and is home to over 11 million people in Canada and the US. Buffalo, New York; Erie, Pennsylvania; Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio are large, heavily industrialized cities on the US side of the Lake Drainage Basin. There are no similarly sized communities on the Canadian shore.
Most of the Great Lakes were formed long ago when glaciers deepened areas near rivers. For example, in this place, the less-resistant shales and limestones from the Palaeozoic era were eroded to create huge depressions that are now lakes. Hundreds of meters thick, these glaciers occupied much of the lake basin and left behind dirt deposits along the shoreline. Only in the eastern and western portions of Erie did more resistant dolomites manage to form a shoreline.
6. Lake Winnipeg: 23,750 km2
lake Winnipeg is the fourth-largest freshwater lake in Canada and the world’s eleventh-largest inland sea. It is also one of the deepest lakes in North America, with a maximum depth of over 200 m. the lake is located in the province of Manitoba, and its shores are home to several major cities, including Winnipeg, Selkirk, and Gimli. The lake is fed by many rivers, including the Red River, the Assiniboine River, and the Winnipeg River. It drains into Hudson Bay through the Nelson River. Lake Winnipeg is an essential source of fresh water for Canada and the United States. It is also a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities.
The Cree called Lake Winnipeg “win nipee”, meaning “muddy water.” It was spelled in many different ways by English and French maps, including Ouynipigon and Winnipeek. Pimachiowin Aki, “land that gives life in Anishinaabemowin,” is a UNESCO world heritage site near two large sections of the lake’s eastern shoreline.
Lake Winnipeg, the sixth largest freshwater lake in Canada, is located in central Manitoba. The lake extends 416 km North-South and is 23,750 km2 in size. It drains about 984,200 km2 of land through the Saskatchewan, Red, and Assiniboine River Systems.
Lake Winnipeg’s drainage basin extends from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to Ontario. Lake Winnipeg feeds the Nelson River, which runs through Manitoba and into Hudson Bay. It is a significant regional water source at an average rate of 2,066 cubic meters per second.
Fascinating wind and wave effects have occurred in lakes such as Lake Winnipeg. When prevailing northerly winds blow along its length, they exert horizontal stress on the water’s surface. Surface waters move in the direction of their chosen wind and pile up along the other side – a phenomenon known as a setup or wind tide. Setups greater than one meter above normal lake levels have been recorded along many of Southern Lake Winnipeg’s recreational beaches. The associated high waves with their raised water uprush effects cause considerable storm destruction, erosion to shorelines, and flooding. The highest setups occur in fall when northerly winds are most potent. If these winds die down suddenly, water rushes back northward and then sloshes back and forth in a process called seiching.
The Lake Winnipeg Basin, which this body of water is in, was created 12,000 ago when glaciers were melting. As the ice melted, it made a large glacial lake (Lake Agassiz), drained and exposed flat land from the Manitoba Escarpment. Today, the basin is occupied by lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis, and Manitoba.
7. Lake Ontario: 18,960 km2
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the easternmost lake of the Great Lakes and lies between Canada and the United States. The lake is 18,960 km2 in size and has a maximum depth of 244 m. The lake is home to diverse wildlife, including fish, birds, and mammals. Lake Ontario’s most common fish include salmon, trout, and bass. The lake is also home to various bird species, including gulls, ducks, geese, and herons. Mammals in or around the lake include beavers, otters, and mice. Lake Ontario is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The lake offers various activities for people, such as swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking. Many scenic spots around the lake are perfect for picnics or enjoying the view.
Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes, though it’s next to over 55% of Ontario’s population. The metropolitan areas at its western end, like Hamilton, Toronto, and Oshawa, are known as the Golden Horseshoe. Lake Ontario encouraged settlers to make their homes here thanks to productive farmland and access to shipping routes such as the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal.
Lake Ontario is 18,960 kilometers (10,000 kilometers in Canada), with a drainage area of 60,030 kilometers, an elevation of 75 meters, a mean depth of 86 meters (max 244 meters), a length of 311 kilometers, and a width of 85 kilometers. It’s the smallest in surface area and most easterly of the Great Lakes, and the eighth-largest body of fresh water in North America. The lake receives most of its water supply from the other Great Lakes via the Niagara River and discharges into the St Lawrence River through the Kingston Basin at its northeast end. Other tributaries are the Genesee, Oswego, and Black Rivers in New York State and the Trent River in Ontario.
Lake Ontario occupies a bedrock depression 1300 feet deep. Both glaciers and erosion have shaped the landscape of the basin. Several glacial lakes with different elevation levels once occupied its basin 11,000 years ago when the current water level and outlet were established. The lake shore is a low bluff of rock or glacial sediment that forms a narrow beach. The bluffs at the southeast end of Toronto are scenic and tower as high as 100 meters above the lake. There are other scenic areas, like the rocky coasts and islands of the Kingston Basin, and extensive sandy beaches in Hamilton and Toronto.
Lake Ontario is deep, and the winter climate is relatively temperate thanks to drafts of warm air from the southwest. Open waters rarely freeze in winter, making it an ideal place for summer water sports. The body of the lake is well mixed all year, with uniform temperatures at depths below 200 meters, so conditions are perfect for diving and other recreational activities. Compared to lakes Erie and Superior, Lake Ontario’s average residence time are 8-10 years – much shorter than lakes Erie and Superior have.
8. Lake Athabasca: 7,935 km2
Lake Athabasca is a large lake in north-central Canada. It is the fourth-largest lake in the country and has an area of 7,935 km2. The Athabasca River feeds the lake and drains into the Slave River. It is also part of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas. The lake is home to many fish species, including Lake trout, Arctic grayling, northern pike, and whitefish. It is also a popular destination for wildlife watching, as it supports a large population of bald eagles. Despite its remote location, Lake Athabasca is a popular destination for recreation and tourism. Many lodges and resorts are located along its shores, and it is a popular destination for fishing, hunting, and canoeing.
Lake Athabasca is part of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, a visually stunning and biologically diverse wetland. It’s about the size of Prince Edward Island, so it’s a large area to explore. The delta is a vital migration point and nesting ground for bird species like the whooping crane and whistling swan (actually, 80% of the delta falls within Wood Buffalo National Park, a World Heritage Site and sanctuary for North America’s largest wild bison herd).
Lake Athabasca is a 7,935 km2 lake located adjacent to the Precambrian Shield in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The lake’s height is 213 m, with a maximum depth of 124 m and a mean depth of 20 m. It’s fed by the Athabasca and Peace rivers, which also act as its drainage. Approximately 70% of Lake Athabasca lies within Saskatchewan’s borders, while the remainder is in Alberta.
Lake Athabasca is home to a commercial fishery, with a catch of primarily lake trout, northern pike, and walleye. Other fish species documented in the lake include lake whitefish, arctic grayling, yellow perch, burbot, white sucker, and longnose sucker.
On a larger scale, the lake is part of the Peace-Athabasca Delta – an area spanning about Prince Edward Island’s size. This delta contains many wetlands and provides a key migration point for birds like whooping cranes and other geese and ducks. In addition, 80% of this delta falls within the boundaries of Wood Buffalo National Park – a UCN World Heritage site that also happens to be America’s largest bison refuge.
9. Reindeer Lake: 6,650 km2
Reindeer Lake is a lake located in northeastern Saskatchewan, Canada. It is the sixth-largest lake in the province, with a surface area of 6,650 km2. The lake is home to a large population of wild reindeer, which gives it its name.
Fishing is an essential industry in the region. Sport fishermen are drawn by its clear waters, which host regular catches of Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Walleye, and Arctic Grayling.
Reindeer Lake, currently 6650 square kilometers in size, is 337 meters above sea level and is 233 kilometers long. The lake is at the border of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada’s second-largest and ninth-largest, respectively. Its irregular shoreline contains many small islands.
The Reindeer Lake is the second-largest lake in Saskatchewan and the ninth-largest in Canada. The lake has an indented shoreline with many islands. There are communities on the shores of the lake, including Kinoosao on the northeast side, Brochet, Manitoba, at the north end, and Southend, Saskatchewan, on the south end, which occupies mainly the northern part of the lake. Fishing and sportfishing are essential industries in the Reindeer Lake region because of the clear and deep water.
10. Nettilling Lake: 5,542 km2
Nettilling Lake is a massive body of water located in the Canadian Arctic. It covers an area of 5,542 square kilometers, making it one of the largest lakes in the world. The lake is home to various fish species, including arctic char and lake trout. In addition to its abundant wildlife, Nettilling Lake is also known for its stunning scenery. The lake is surrounded by mountains and glaciers, making it a truly breathtaking sight.
Nettilling Lake is one of the largest lakes in the world that’s found on an island. For most of the year, it’s iced over, and only three species of fish are known to live in its waters: Arctic char, two species of stickleback, and caribou. The area around Nettilling Lake, including the south of Amadjuak Lake, is essential for caribou.
Nettilling Lake, 5,542 km2 and 123 km long, are located in a remote part of Baffin Island. The lake sits in the Great Plain of the Koukdjuak, roughly 280 km from Iqaluit. Its name comes from Inuktitut, but the meaning of “Nettilling” is unknown.
The tenth largest lake in Canada, Nettilling is fed by Amadjuak Lake and other smaller lakes and streams, helping it to become one of the largest in Nunavut. There are three bays (Mirage, Camsell, Burwash) at its east end, which is dotted with numerous islands. The western section is deeper, with no islands. Nettilling empties into Foxe Basin from the west shore via a shallow river called Koukdjuak.
Available for only a few months a year, Arctic char and two species of stickleback are the only fish types recorded in its waters. The area around the lake and south of Amadjuak Lake is important for caribou.
What are the other large lakes in Canada?
Canada has over two million lakes, covering nearly seven percent of the country’s surface area. Of these, a handful stands out as the largest lakes in the country. In this post, we wrote about the top 10 largest lakes in Canada, but below, you can find the rest of the lakes in their rank until the 50th.
The 50 largest lakes in Canada in a nutshell
The largest lakes in Canada
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and one of the oldest. It’s 10% of the world’s surface freshwater and has plenty of natural beauty. The Northernmost of the Great Lakes straddles the Canada-US border with Ontario to the north. Its shores touch four U.S. states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. It drains into Huron via the St. Marys River and then into Lake Superior.
One of the five Great Lakes of North America, Lake Huron comprises the eastern portion of Lake Michigan-Huron, having the same surface elevation. They are connected by the 5-mile-wide (8.0 km) Straits of Mackinac, where they meet in Ernest, Michigan. Ontario borders Lake Huron on the north, and the American state of Michigan shares it on the south and west—making up about 90% of its shores. Native American tribes such as the Huron used to inhabit this region, giving it its name in French from its word for “Lake Home.”
Lake Huron is the world’s second-largest Great Lake by surface area. The northern parts of the lake include the North Channel and Georgian Bay. Saginaw Bay is located in the southwest corner of the lake, whereas the main inlet for this freshwater estuary is the St. Marys River. The main outlet is the St. Clair River, and neighboring lakes to Huron include Erie and Ontario.
Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake (also known as Sahtú by the Canadian indigenous people) is a lake found in Canada and is not just the largest lake entirely in Canada but also its fourth-largest. It’s located on the northern edge of the boreal forest, which puts it at an exact latitude of 65 degrees north and longitude of 118 degrees west, up from sea level at 156 meters.
Truthfully, the Sahtu people (pronounced SAY-too) are named after the lake (Sahtu), which derives its name from the Chipewyan word satudene. The Sahtu is a Dene tribe and was originally located near Fort Good Hope in northern Canada. The area around the lake is called Grizzly Bear Mountain in Chipewyan, making sense given that they once hunted this. But it wasn’t just the Chipewyan who found their way to this protected area – there’s also a commemorative site of Canada nearby: Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site.
Great Slave Lake
Though it is not the largest lake in the Northwest Territories, Great Slave Lake is still one of the most interesting. With a maximum depth of 614 meters, it’s the deepest lake in North America and the tenth-largest in the world by area. The lake spans 27,200 square kilometers (10,500 sq mi), covers 469 kilometers in length (291 mi), and is 20 to 203 kilometers wide (12 to 126 mi) – nearly twenty times as large as Rhode Island!
The lake has been named in honor of the First Nations peoples of the Dene family, called Slavey by their enemies, the Cree. Towns that sit on the lake include (clockwise from the east) Łutselk’e, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Hay River Reserve, Behchokǫ̀, Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, and Dettah. The only community in the East Arm is Łutselk’e. This settlement is home to about 350 people, mainly belonging to the Chipewyan Indigenous peoples of the Dene Nation. It includes an abandoned winter camp used by Hudson’s Bay Company post-Fort Reliance. Along the south shore, east of Hay River is Pine Point Mine and the company town of Pine Point.
Lake Erie (/ˈɪəri/ “eerie”) is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes in North America and the eleventh-largest in the world. It’s shallowest and smallest by volume, so its water spends less time here. The lake is also at its deepest point at 210 feet (64 meters).
Lake Erie’s northern shoreline is found in Canada, located at the International Boundary between Canada and the United States. The provinces of Ontario and Michigan, along with the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, make up Lake Erie’s western, southern, and eastern shores. These jurisdictions divide Lake Erie’s surface area with water boundaries. Cleveland is one of the largest cities on Lake Erie and is found in the U.S.’s third-largest metro area in the Great Lakes region. Other prominent cities next to Lake Erie are Buffalo, New York; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio.
Situated below Lake Huron, Erie’s primary inlet is the Detroit River. The main natural outflow from the lake is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and America. It spins massive turbines near Niagara Falls at Lewiston, New York, and Queenston, Ontario. Some outflow occurs via the Welland Canal, part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The canal diverts water for ship passages from Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie, to St. Catharines on Lake Ontario. This elevation difference is 326 feet (99 meters). Lake Erie’s environmental health has been an ongoing concern for decades, with issues such as overfishing, pollution, algae blooms, and eutrophication generating headlines.
Lake Winnipeg, in the Canadian province of Manitoba, is a 24,514-square-kilometer (9,465 sq mi) lake that extends for about 258 miles from north to south. It’s fed by the Red and Assiniboine rivers and other rivers flowing into it, like the Bloodvein River, and is home to many islands. The lake’s east side has pristine boreal forests and lakes that are among North America’s most ecologically diverse ecosystems.
In the southwest corner of Lake Winnipeg, Turtle Island is inhabited by the Sagkeeng First Nation. The Anishinaabe people have been in this area for hundreds of years, and the rush of European settlers has created a potent mix of cultures.
Lake Ontario is one of the five great lakes in North America. It is surrounded by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York, which meet in the middle of the lake.
The Canadian cities of Toronto, Kingston, Mississauga, and Hamilton are located on the lake’s northern and western shorelines. It borders US cities Rochester to the south and Erie to the east. The Huron name for Lake Ontario means “big water. Niagara Falls also feeds into the lake system, cascading downward from Lake Erie. The Moses-Saunders Power Dam regulates the water level of Lake Ontario.
Lake Athabasca is located in the northwest corner of Saskatchewan and the northeast corner of Alberta, between 58° and 60° N. This makes it 26% in Alberta and 74% in Saskatchewan.
Reindeer Lake is a lake in Canada located on the border between northeastern Saskatchewan and northwestern Manitoba. It is one of the 24 largest lakes in the world by area and the second-largest in both Saskatchewan and Canada. Eight percent of this 11,130 square kilometer (4,300 sq mi) body of water lies in Manitoba, while 92% belongs to Saskatchewan.
The small town of Churchill Falls is known for plentiful electricity, thanks to the Smallwood Reservoir. Unlike other reservoirs, water is contained not by one large dam but by 88 dikes that total 64 km (40 mi) in length and span a drainage area of the Churchill River. It was named in honor of Joey Smallwood, the first premier of Newfoundland.
As the largest body of freshwater in the province, with an area of 6,527 km2 (2,520 sq mi), Lake Erie is the second largest reservoir in the world in terms of surface area.
Lake Netsilik is the world’s largest freshwater lake on an island, with an area of 5,542 km2 (2,140 sq mi) and a maximum length of 123 km (76 mi). The water is cold because it flows from glaciers in the icefields surrounding the Koukdjuak region northeast of Iqaluit. It has many species of fish and marine mammals, including polar bears. Inuktitut speakers know it as a “lake with a lot of seal meat” from the word for the adult ringed seal (netsilak).
Nettilling is the 11th largest lake in Canada. The second largest lake feeds it in Nunavut, Amadjuak Lake, and several other smaller lakes and streams. It empties west via the very shallow Koukdjuak River into Foxe Basin. The eastern half has many small islands, and the western half is deeper with no islands. The lake is frozen for most of the year. Ringed seals live on Nettilling Lake, and three species of fish: Arctic char, ninespine stickleback, and three-spined stickleback. The tundra around Nettilling Lake and south of Amadjuak Lake is vital for barren-ground caribou feeding and calving.
One of Canada’s largest lakes, Lake Winnipegosis, is the eleventh biggest, spanning more than 5,370 kilometers. It is sometimes spelled as Lake Winipigoos or simply ‘Lake Winipigis’, though Lake Winnipegosis is the original and most common spelling.
Lake Nipigon is an enormous lake surrounded by Ontario. It is the largest lake in the Canadian province of Ontario, so it is significant to visitors interested in geography and wildlife.
Manitoba is home to over 16,000 lakes and rivers. Lake Manitoba has the largest share of freshwater in Canada and the world. It covers 4,624 km² (1,785 sq mi) and is 75km from Winnipeg. Lake Manitoba has a surface area of 4,624km2 (1,785sqmi).
Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods is more than 70 miles (110 km) long, wide, and deep. It’s situated in parts of Canada, Minnesota, and Ontario. Lake of the Woods is fed by the Rainy River, Shoal Lake, Kakagi Lake, and many smaller rivers. This lake drains into the Winnipeg River and then into Lake Winnipeg. Ultimately its outflow goes north through the Nelson River to Hudson Bay.
Lake of the Woods is also the sixth largest freshwater lake located in at least a small section of the US. It separates just a small bit of Minnesota from the rest of the United States and is number 36 on our list by area. The Northwest Angle and the town of Angle Township can be reached only by crossing the lake or traveling through Canada. The Northwest Angle is the northernmost part of America. Its “northwesternmost point” served as a problematic landmark that defined an international border in treaties.
The lake’s islands provide nesting habitats for the piping plover and large numbers of American white pelicans. There are also several hundred nesting pairs of bald eagles in this area. One of the names currently used in Ojibwe for this lake is babiikwaawangaa-zaaga’igan, meaning “Lake with Uneven Sand.”
The Caniapiscau Reservoir (French: Réservoir de Caniapiscau) is the largest body of water in Quebec and the second-largest reservoir in Canada.
The Caniapiscau Reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs in Canada, formed by two dams and forty-three dikes. As a headpond, it feeds power plants during the winter and provides up to 35% of their production. The lake’s total catchment area is about 36,800 square kilometers (14,200 sq mi.)
The reservoir was created by excavating the land underneath a lake. When the reservoir was named, it was called Piskaaw, which means “rocky point” in Cree and Innu. The Creator reminded Albert Peter Low of this in 1895 when he said, ” A high rocky headland juts into the lake.”
The Caniapiscau Reservoir is only accessible by bush plane and has been since 1981. This makes it an excellent destination for hunting or fishing trips. It’s far from civilizations, and there aren’t any gas stations or other businesses nearby, so plan accordingly.
Dubawnt Lake is a lake in the Kivalliq Region northeast of Hudson Bay, due west of the Arctic Circle, with an area of 3,630 km2 (1,400 sq mi) and several islands. The main outlet to the outside world is the Dubawnt River. This river joins Thelon River at Beverly Lake. The Thelon flows east to Hudson Bay at Chesterfield Inlet. It was discovered by Samuel Hearne in 1770 but remained unexplored until Joseph Tyrrell arrived in 1893. There are no permanent settlements, but during the two-month ice-free season, people can fly in for fishing trips where large lake trout are common catches.
The lake is paralleled by the Aupaluk River to its west and drained north into Admiralty Inlet via the Amadjuak River. It was named after the nearby Amadjuak caribou herds. The lake is navigable and has been used for centuries by Inuit people. The Amadjuak Copper Mine was operated on the lake from 1956 to 1963.
First settled by the Inuit people, Lake Melville received its name in 1789 when William Erskine, a lieutenant with the Royal Navy, mapped Hamilton Inlet. The area was subsequently visited by British and French traders who established posts along the coast; however, it was in 1905 that a permanent settlement was created at Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Most Lake Melville residents are members of the Innu or Inuit nations; however, there is also a significant settler population (primarily of English and Irish descent). The primary economic activities in Lake Melville are tourism and fishing; however, the area is also home to several large hydroelectric dams which generate electricity for much of Newfoundland and Labrador. These dams have created several large lakes within Lake Melville, including Smallwood Reservoir (the largest body of water in Newfoundland), Lewisporte Reservoir, and Notre Dame Bay. Logging is also a significant industry in some of the lake’s watersheds.
The Robert Bourassa Reservoir is an artificial lake created as part of the James Bay Project in Quebec, Canada. It serves as a source of water for generating stations and has a surface area of 2,835 square kilometers (1,095 sq mi) and a surface elevation between 168 meters (551 ft) and 175 meters (574 ft). It has an estimated volume of 61.7 cubic kilometers (14.8 cu mi), with 19.4 cubic kilometers (4.7 cu mi) available for hydroelectric power generation.
The Robert Bourassa Dam is the body of water at the head of the La Grande River Reservoir. This dam was built from 1974 to 1978 and had four million m3 (5.3 million yd3) fill. The reservoir also has 31 smaller emergency dikes to keep it from overflowing.
Wollaston Lake, located in northeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, has an area of 2,286 square kilometers (883 sq mi) and is the largest bifurcation lake in the world. It drains naturally in two directions and sits 550 kilometers (340 mi) northeast of Prince Albert.
About 10% of the lake’s water drains into the Fond du Lac River, which flows out of the lake to the northwest, eventually ending in Lake Athabasca. The rest of the water drains into the Cochrane River, which flows out of the northeastern side of the lake and into Reindeer Lake, which eventually ends up in Hudson Bay.
One of the primary water sources for Wollaston Lake comes from the Geikie River, which flows from the southwest into the southwest section of the lake. If Hudson Bay is considered an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, then the Geikie is the largest river in the world to flow naturally into two oceans.
La Grande 3 Reservoir
La Grande 3 reservoir is a freshwater body in the municipality of Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, in the Nord-du-Québec administrative region of Québec, Canada. Its waters are retained by the dam of the La Grande-3 power station.
This James Bay water reservoir covers 2,420 square kilometers. Its good reserve of 25,200 cubic hm is contained upstream of the dam of the same name on the Grande Rivière. It is located downstream of the La Grande 4 Reservoir.
Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Quebec, Canada. With 22,335km2 of surface area, the lake is a great vacation destination. Head over to the Cree town of Mistissini in the southeast corner and cool off by Lake Mistassini. There’s a thriving forestry industry due to plenty of trees surrounding the area.
The major rivers flowing into Lake Superior include the following: Chalifour, Pépeshquasati, Takwa, Témiscamie, and Wabissinane. Some of the nearby lakes include Lake Albanel and Lake Troilus.
Nueltin Lake, located on the Manitoba-Nunavut border, is a beautiful body of water split into two parts by a narrow channel. The lake, which has an area of 2,279 km2 (880 sq mi), straddles the Manitoba-Nunavut border in Canada. There is also Nueltin Lake Airport on the Manitoba side–serving a fishing lodge near the lake. Thlewiaza River drains it.
Southern Indian Lake
As the 2nd largest freshwater lake in Canada, Southern Indian Lake provides an excellent habitat for many types of fish. The surface elevation is 258 m (846 ft), and there are plenty of significant lakeshore communities and islands to explore.
Southern Indian Lake is the fourth largest lake in Manitoba. It has a complex shoreline with many islands, long peninsulas, and deep bays. The Churchill River runs through it to form a delta at its eastern tip.
South Indian Lake, located on the southeastern shore with a population of 767, is the main settlement of the O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation and is located 129 miles away from Thompson by plane. The lake and settlement are accessed by the South Indian Lake Airport, a gravel runway that starts in Leaf Rapids and winds up 219.1 miles northeast to its terminus at South Indian Lake. The nearest city, Thompson, is 436 miles away.
The Manicouagan Reservoir covered 1,942 km2 (750 sq mi) and was created 214 million years ago. The lake island in its center is called René-Levasseur Island, and the highest point is Mount Babel. This structure was created when a meteorite about 5 km (3 mi) in diameter hit the Earth during the Triassic Period. When seen from space, this man-made lake can be clearly distinguished from its surroundings because of a large island surrounded by a perfect circular rock barrier. With a volume of 137.9 km3 (33.1 cu mi), it is said to be one of North America’s most distinct natural features.
Baker Lake is a hamlet in the Kivalliq Region, about 320 km (200 mi) from Hudson Bay. The community is near the nation’s geographical center and the mouth of the Thelon River on Baker Lake. It was given its English name in 1761 by Captain William Christopher, who named it after Sir William Baker, one of the two 11th governors of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Lac La Martre
Lac La Martre is the third-largest lake in Northwest Territories, Canada. It is located approximately 201km (125 miles) northwest of Yellowknife, Canada’s capital for this region, and home to its Tłı̨chǫ community of Whatì.
Williston Lake is a reservoir straddling the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, created by the W. A. C. Bennett Dam.
The Peace River connects to the Rocky Mountain Trench, where the Parsnip and Finlay Rivers meet. These two rivers merge at Finlay Forks to form the Peace River Canyon, forming one of North America’s most extended river systems. The lake includes three tributaries, the Peace Reach (formerly known as Peace Canyon) and the lowermost intakes of those rivers, which total 1,761 km2 (680 sq mi), making it larger than any lake in British Columbia and among the largest in the world by volume.
This reservoir is fed by the Finnley, Omichinka, Ingenga, Oshpika, Parsnip, Manson River, and Nation Creek. In addition to being regularly fed by Clearwater Creek and Carbon Creek, it also receives smaller creeks.
Lac Seul is a large, crescent-shaped lake in Kenora District, northwestern Ontario. It’s 241 km (150 miles) long. It has a maximum (regulated) depth of 47.2 m, with a surface elevation of 357 m above sea level. The lake rises to 16 feet below the maximum water level during winter. Several rock shoals provide suitable habitats for walleye and darts but not muskelunge or pike.
Lac Seul is located on Glacial Lake Agassiz, which dried up about 10,000 years ago. This previous lake bed has left the area covered in a thick layer of lacustrine sediments and varved clay, varying in thickness depending on where you find it. Lac Seul’s water also creates a tea-colored reflection, allowing it to catch Walleye and Northern Pike throughout the day.
Lac Seul is the home of several small islands that are a vital calving habitat for the rare boreal woodland caribou.
Lac Seul’s natural capacity is augmented by the diversion of water from the drainage basin at Lake St. Joseph, which feeds hydroelectric power stations such as Ear Falls and Manitou Falls.
The Gouin Reservoir, which starts in La Tuque and is sourced from the Saint-Maurice River, is not one large body of water. It’s a series of connected lakes separated by thousands of bays, peninsulas, and islands. Compared to its surface area, it has over 5,600 km (3,500 miles) of shoreline (excluding islands).
This large reservoir extends into the following locations: Mathieu, Verreau; Lacasse, Toussaint, McSweeney, Magnan, Lindsay; Hanotaux, Cremazie, Lemay, Marmette, Brochu, Déziel; Poisson, Evanturel, Myrand, Chapman, and Nevers. Achintre and Sulte are both lakes that receive water from this reservoir. Aubin is also a lake that feeds directly into the reservoir. Levasseur joins it at its southeastern edge. Delage extends further south from there.
Yathkyed Lake is located between Angikuni and Forde Lakes. It is situated on the Kazan River, one of numerous lakes that make up this river.
Dene people hunted caribou here for thousands of years. Caribou Inuit artifacts have also been found.
Lake Yathkyed is the only lake on an island in a lake in the world. And it’s the only such place that also has an island.
Lake Claire is the largest lake in Alberta that’s entirely located in Wood Buffalo National Park. It’s located west of Lake Athabasca and is between the mouths of Peace River and Athabasca River. Lake Claire is part of the Peace-Athabasca Delta system.
Lake Louise is a lake located in the Canadian province of Alberta with an area of 1,436 km2 (554 sq mi). This lake system contains two rivers: Birch River and McMurdo River. The water is discharged in the Peace River, flowing to the Arctic Ocean through the Slave River, Great Slave Lake, and Mackenzie River.
Cree Lake is a large lake located west of Reindeer Lake and south of Lake Athabasca. The lake is the fourth largest in the province and can only be reached by float plane.
Cree Lake Airport is a bush strip that serves the fly-in fishing lodge, Crystal Lodge.
Lac la Ronge
Lac la Ronge is an enormous lake in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Surrounded by prairies, it is approximately 250 kilometers north of Prince Albert and sticks out from the edge of the Canadian Shield. It’s a popular vacation spot with recreational activities such as fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, and camping.
Lac a l’Eau-Claire
Lac-Wiyashakimay (formerly Lac à l’Eau Claire) is a French name meaning Lake of Shells. It is also called Clearwater Lakes in English. This lake is near Hudson Bay in Quebec, Canada, and it was named by the Cree Indians and then adopted by the French.
The name Lac des Sables is French for “sand lakes”. There are 26 lakes – the northernmost and the second-largest natural lake in Quebec.
The town of Grand Rapids is located near a lake in Manitoba, Canada. The lake is known to produce examples of prehistoric amber that could range anywhere from 8 to 66 million years old. They’re called “Chemawinit,” after the Indian tribe that lives in the area. Another name for this type of amber is “Cedarit”. This amber contains many organic inclusions that need to be thoroughly researched. Geologist Albert Peter Low gave one probable explanation for why these are called Cedar Lake in 1896: The water’s quality and purity made it particularly suitable for storing and transporting goods through ice-on-ice contact.
Kasba Lake is geographically located in Western Nunavut and Eastern Northwest Territories. A large part of Kasba Lake lies within Northwest Territory, but a small section also resides in Nunavut. The lake is close to Canada’s four corners and offers a fishing lodge for summer tourists.
Laforge 1 Reservoir is a large body of fresh water in the Municipality of Eeyou Istchee Baie-James (Municipality) in the Nord-du-Québec administrative region of Québec, Canada. With an area of 1,288 square kilometers, this water reservoir has an average maximum level of 439 m. It has a good reserve of 6,857 cubics hm. This reservoir is part of the development of phase two of the La Grande Complex in James Bay.
Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake, most of which belongs to the US states of New York and Vermont. It also extends north into the Canadian province of Quebec.
The Champlain Valley includes the eastern portions of Clinton and Essex Counties. Part of this area is Adirondack Park. Many recreational facilities are in the park and along Lake Champlain’s relatively undeveloped shoreline. Cities like Plattsburgh, New York, and Burlington, Vermont, are on opposite shores of the lake, and the town of Ticonderoga is in the southern part. Quebec’s portion is located in Le Haut-Richelieu and Brome-Missisquoi Regional County Municipalities. Lake Champlain has many islands; the largest include Grand Isle, Isle La Motte, and North Hero. All three are part of Grand Isle County in Vermont.
Lake Champlain is sometimes referred to as “The Sixth Great Lake” because of its connection to the St. Lawrence Seaway via the Richelieu River and its proximity to the Champlain Canal.
Lake Bienville is in western central Quebec. It was named after Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the younger brother of Sieur d’Iberville. The lake has several outlets and drains east into Ungava Bay and west into Little Whale River. It eventually joins the Great Whale River, which flows through this lake to Hudson Bay.
Lake Bienville is found at the southern edge of the subarctic climate zone. The lake has an area of 1,015 square kilometers. It is also home to freshwater seals, and wood caribou can be found around its shores.
There is a proposal to build a hydroelectric project, James Bay II, which would flood the land around Lake James.
Island Lake (Manitoba)
Island Lake is a lake in northeastern Manitoba, Canada, located near the Ontario border. It covers 1,223 square kilometers (472 sq mi), making it the fifth-largest lake in Manitoba. The Island Lake River flows north from the northwest section of the lake before changing course and flowing into Gods Lake via Goose Lake and Beaver Lake. Gods Lake drains north through Gods River into the Hay River.
This monument is a key point in the northwest-to-southeast boundary between Manitoba and Quebec.
Lesser Slave Lake
Lesser Slave Lake is located in central Alberta, Canada, northwest of Edmonton. It is the second largest lake within Alberta Boundaries and is 100 km long. The lake’s average depth is 11 meters and can be up to 37 feet deep. The Lesser Slave River flows into this lake and finally empties into the Athabasca River, which connects to several other waterways.
The town of Slave Lake is located at the eastern edge of the lake, just below where the Lesser Slave River flows in.
Gods Lake is a lake in northeastern Manitoba, Canada. With an area of 1,151 square kilometers (444 sq mi) and a water surface area of 1,061 square kilometers (410 sq mi), it is the seventh-largest lake in the province. It covers approximately 280 kilometers east of Thompson at an elevation of 178 meters (584 ft). Its north end empties via the Gods River and the Hayes River to Hudson Bay.
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair is a freshwater lake between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Michigan. The lake was initially named in 1679 by French Catholic explorers after Saint Clare of Assisi, whose feast day coincided with the timing of the discovery on which day they first saw the lake.
Connected to Lake Huron and Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair is just one of the lakes part of the Great Lakes series. The average depth is about 11 feet, but the government has ensured it stays at 30 feet deep so shipping can happen without interruption.
Aberdeen Lake is a large, oval-shaped lake in Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada. Located on the Canadian Shield, it measures around 90 kilometers (56 miles) long. A large peninsula at the lake’s center separates the water by almost two halves and stretches out nearly 30 kilometers (19 miles) east-west. To the west lies Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Thelon River is the primary inflow and outflow of the Beverly Lake watershed. Schultz Lake is a smaller lake nearby.
Bras d’Or Lake
This saltwater estuary is in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It’s connected to the open sea and is affected by tides, and it has inlets of fresh water that make it an ecologically diverse habitat. In 2011 it was designated as a UNESCO Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve.
Takiyuak Lake is one of Nunavut’s largest lakes. It’s 173km (107 mi) away from Kugluktuk and provides the source for the Hood River.
Lake Mackay is an ephemeral salt lake in Western Australia. It is the largest of hundreds of lakes in the Pilbara and Goldfields-Esperance region. This region contains some of the most inhospitable lands on earth.
This largest lake in Western Australia stretches 3,494 square kilometers (1,349 sq mi). The terrain shifts from 355 meters (1,165 ft) to 370 meters (1,210 ft) above sea level.
Lac-Saint-Jean is a large, shallow lake situated in southern Quebec. It’s 206 km north of the Saint Lawrence River and drains into the Saguenay River. The lake area is 1,053 km2, and its deepest point is 63.1 m. It’s named Piekuakami in the Innu language.
Canadians are lucky to have such an abundance of large lakes. These natural wonders provide homes for wildlife, support our economy, and offer us a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Canada is also home to some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. In fact, six of the top ten largest lakes in the world by area are located in Canada. These lakes are so large and vast that they’re often referred to as inland seas. They play a vital role in the country’s economy, providing drinking water, irrigation, hydroelectricity, and transportation. Next time you’re at one of these lakes, take a moment to appreciate its size and importance!