Environment

The Largest Lakes in Canada

Canada is home to 31,752 lakes that are larger than three square km of which 561 lakes have a surface area larger than 100 square km.

Nearly 9% of the total area of Canada is covered by freshwater including lakes, rivers, and glaciers. The country is known for its abundance of fresh water. 31,752 of lakes in the country are greater than 3 square km in size. 561 of these lakes have a surface area that is more than 10 square km. Here, we mention the ten largest lakes in Canada.

10. Smallwood Reservoir

The Smallwood Reservoir is located in the western part of Labrador, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The reservoir was created by impounding the Churchill River, and the water content is maintained by a series of 88 dikes constructed along a stretch of 64 km. The Smallwood Reservoir is the world’s second largest reservoir in terms of surface area. The Churchill Falls hydroelectric project is based on this reservoir. The Smallwood Reservoir was created in 9 years from 1966 to 1974 and was completed 5 months before the scheduled date of completion.

9. Reindeer Lake

Located on the border between the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Reindeer Lake is the ninth largest lake in the country. 92% of the lake area is in Saskatchewan while the rest is within the territory of Manitoba. The lake drains into the Reindeer River and the water outflow here is regulated by the Whitesand Dam. The site of a large meteorite impact with the Earth, the Deep Bay, is located at the southern end of Reindeer Lake. Fishing is an important economic activity for the people living in the lake region. Sport-fishermen are also attracted to the deep, clear waters of the lake. Fish species commonly found here include Arctic grayling, lake whitefish, northern pike, lake trout, walleye, and more.


8. Lake Athabasca

Located in Saskatchewan’s northwest corner and Alberta’s northeast corner, Lake Athabasca is the eighth largest lake in Canada. 74% of the lake is within Saskatchewan’s territory and the remaining is part of Alberta. The lake occupies an area of 7,935 square km and holds 204 cubic kilos of water. It is thus the deepest and largest lake of both provinces where it is located. The Mackenzie and Slave River carry the waters of the lake to finally drain into the Atlantic Ocean. One of Alberta’s earliest European settlements, Fort Chipewyan, is located on Lake Athabasca’s western shores. For years, uranium and gold have been mined along the northern shore of Lake Athabasca. Such activity has led to the water in the region being contaminated with mine waste. 23 species of fish live in the lake including cisco, burbot, yellow perch, longnose sucker, goldeye, lake whitefish, and more.

7. Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is one North America’s five Great Lakes, and also the seventh largest in Canada by the area occupied in the country. The lake is located on the boundary between the US and Canada. The Canadian province of Ontario lies on the west, southwest, and north of the lake. The Niagara River rising from Lake Erie is the principal source of water to Lake Ontario. The Don, Humber, Trent, Genesee, Black, Little Salmon, and the Cataraqui are some of the other rivers that drain into the lake. The St. Lawrence River drains the lake and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Ontario is the world’s 14th largest lake and the smallest of the Great Lakes by surface area. The lake’s shoreline (including islands) is 712 miles long. The Lake Ontario watershed region hosts a great diversity of birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and plants. However, extensive exploitation of the natural resources of the region for human gains has significantly damaged the delicate ecological balance and polluted the waters of the lake.

6. Lake Winnipeg

#6 Lake Winnipeg


Lake Winnipeg is a shallow but large lake in the Canadian province of Manitoba. The southern tip of the lake is about 54 km (34 miles) north of the city of Winnipeg. The eastern shores of the lake boast pristine boreal forests and rivers. Other natural features around the lake include limestone cliffs, bat caves, and remote, sandy beaches. Lake Winnipeg drains into the Nelson River and is part of the watershed area of the Hudson Bay. Several tributaries act as the source of water in the lake with the major ones being the Saskatchewan River, the Red River, the Winnipeg River, and the Dauphin River. Several communities are based on the shores of the lake and many visitors visit the southern shores of the lake which host good beaches. Currently, the lake is suffering from several environmental issues like the algal population bloom and threats from invasive species. The catch from Lake Winnipeg contributes significantly to Manitoba’s $30 million-a-year fishing industry.

5. Lake Erie

#5 Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest among the North American Great Lakes and the fifth largest lake in Canada. Lake Erie is the southernmost of the Great Lakes and also the shallowest and smallest by volume. The lake is 210 feet deep at its deepest point. The lake is shared by both Canada and the US. The lake is named after the native Erie people of the region. The chief inlet of the lake is the Detroit River while the Welland Canal is the main outlet from the lake.

4. Great Slave Lake

#4 Great Slave Lake

The Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America and the fourth largest lake in Canada. The lake covers an area of 2,200 square km and has a depth of 614 meters. The lake has been named after the Slavey First Nations. The indigenous people were the first to settle near the lake after the retreat of glacial ice. Today, several modern-day towns like Yellowknife, Hay River, Dettah, Behchoko are located on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. The chief inlets to the lake are the Taltson, Hay, and Slave Rivers. The Mackenzie River drains the lake. The western shores of the Great Slave Lake are covered by thick forests while the eastern and northern shores have tundra-like vegetation.

3. Great Bear Lake

The Great Bear Lake is the largest lake located entirely within the boundaries of Canada. It is the world’s eighth largest and North America’s fourth largest lake. The lake is located on the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The Great Bear Lake has a surface area of 31,153 square km and a maximum depth of 1,463 feet. The lake remains ice-covered from late November to July.

2. Lake Huron

Lake Huron is the second largest lake in Canada. The lake is connected to the Lake Michigan via the Straits of Mackinac. The Canadian province of Ontario lies to the north and east of the lake while the US state of Michigan is to the lake’s west and south. The St. Marys River is the main inflow to the lake and the St. Clair is the primary outlet. Lake Huron encompasses an area of 59,590 square km and contains about 3,500 cubic km of water. The lake is about 577 feet above sea-level and has a maximum depth of 750 feet. Several moderately large cities are located on the banks of the lake like Sarnia and Saugeen Shores. The Manitoulin Island is a notable feature of Lake Huron. Over 1,000 ship wrecks have been recorded here. Among the notable shipwrecks, Le Griffon, the first European vessel that sailed the Great Lakes, finds special mention. The biological diversity of Lake Huron has undergone a drastic change over the years due to the introduction of invasive species for commercial purposes.

1. Lake Superior

#1 Lake Superior

Lake Superior, the largest North American lake, is also Canada’s largest lake. The lake is shared between the US and the Canadian province of Ontario. It is the world’s largest freshwater lake by area and is about the size of Austria. The St. Marys River empties into Lake Huron. Lake Superior occupies an area of around 82,103 square km and has an average depth of 483 feet. It is claimed that the lake holds enough water to cover the entire land mass of the Americas.

More than 200 rivers feed Lake Superior including the Nipigon, Pigeion, Pic, White, St. Louis, Bois Brule, and others. Several islands are located on the lake. Several cities have grown up on the shores and several tourist attractions are also present here. The lake serves an an important route for cargo transportation by ships but is closed to shipping during the winter months. In the past, severe storms in the lake like the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, have resulted in several shipwrecks. Remains of these wrecks can still be seen underneath the great depths of the lake. Lake Superior hosts over 80 species of fish like the brook trout, bloater, chinook salmon, round goby, sea lamprey, white perch, and more. Due to the lower levels of dissolved nutrients, Lake Superior is classified as an oligotrophic (unproductive) lake and has lower species diversity than many other lakes of comparable size.

Which Are The Largest Lakes In Canada?

RankLakeArea in km Squared
1Lake Superior82,100
2Lake Huron59,600
3Great Bear Lake31,328
4Great Slave Lake28,568
5Lake Erie25,700
6Lake Winnipeg24,387
7Lake Ontario18,960
8Lake Athabasca7,935
9Reindeer Lake6,650
10Smallwood Reservoir6,527
11Nettilling Lake5,542
12Lake Winnipegosis5,374
13Lake Nipigon4,848
14Lake Manitoba4,624
15Lake of the Woods4,350
16Caniapiscau Reservoir4,318
17Dubawnt Lake3,833
18Amadjuak Lake3,115
19Lake Melville3,069
20Robert-Bourassa Reservoir2,815
21Wollaston Lake2,681
22La Grande 3 Reservoir2,536
23Lac Mistassini2,335
24Nueltin Lake2,279
25Southern Indian Lake2,247
26Manicouagan Reservoir1,973
27Baker Lake1,887
28Lac La Martre1,778
29Williston Lake1,761
30Lac Seul1,657
31Gouin Reservoir1,570
32Yathkyed Lake1,449
33Lake Claire1,436
34Cree Lake1,434
35Lac la Ronge1,413
36Lac a l'Eau-Claire1,383
37Cedar Lake1,353
38Kasba Lake1,341
39Laforge-1 Reservoir1,288
40Lake Champlain1,269
41Lac Bienville1,249
42Island Lake1,223
43Lesser Slave Lake1,160
44Gods Lake1,151
45Lake St. Clair1,114
46Aberdeen Lake1,100
47Bras d'Or Lake1,099
48Napaktulik Lake1,080
49MacKay Lake1,061
50Lac Saint-Jean1,053

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