Canada is a great country and it gets better with the fact that it’s got a huge number of lakes. Currently, there are about 2 million lakes that have been discovered in this country. However, it’s not that surprising once you know that Canada is covered by freshwater. That said, there are small lakes and big ones.
List of biggest lakes in Canada
10. Smallwood Reservoir
Despite its name, this lake has an area of 2,520 sq mi. Although known as a lake, this reservoir was made for the Churchill Falls Generating Station which is located in Labrador, Canada’s western part. This reservoir is also named after Joey Smallwood. He was Newfoundland’s first premier. Also, the reservoir has 88 dikes to prevent overflow. It took 9 years to complete the project. However, it is said that the reservoir was finished five months ahead of schedule. All thanks to the 6,245 workers who helped build it. It’s also important to know that the Smallwood Reservoir is considered to be the second-largest reservoir in the world based on the surface area.
9. Reindeer Lake
This lake is located in Western Canada. Its size is approximately 2,570 sq mi. Currently, it is the ninth largest lake in Canada. Reindeer Lake is also associated with a local legend about a lake monster. The fact that the lake has a meteorite impact site makes it even more intriguing. That said, this lake is popular as a fishing location. This is where you’ll find trophy-sized pikes. The lake also supports commercial fishing on a lighter scale. For that reason, fishing lodges are common in Reindeer lake.
8. Lake Athabasca
The 8th largest lake in Canada has an area of 3,064 sq mi. It’s located in the northeast corner of Alberta and northwest corner of Saskatchewan. Lake Athabasca is also known as the deepest and largest lake in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Current records indicate that the lake has a 50 km width and 124 depth. Unfortunately, this lake has a history of being polluted due to the mining operations that were conducted nearby. Still, the lake remains the home of 23 species of fish. It’s also famous for the 46 kg lake trout that was caught in it. It is still a world record holder!
7. Lake Ontario
This lake is considered to be one of North America’s Great Lakes. It has an area of 7,340 sq mi. Lake Ontario is surrounded by the province of Ontario, but to its south and west is the state of New York. Aside from being the 7th largest lake in Canada, Lake Ontario ranks 13th as the largest in the world. The lake got its name from Canada’s traditional language Huron. Originally, the lake was called Ontari’io which means ‘great lake’. Lake Ontario’s Sodus Bay is also a site of historical importance since Norse artifacts were found near the area. Of course, the true value of Lake Ontario is the fact that it is an environment with high biodiversity. Still, exploits in the surrounding area hurt a lot of species including the near extinction of the lake sturgeon.
6. Lake Winnipeg
Being the 6th biggest lake in Canada, Lake Winnipeg has an area of 9,465 sq mi. Although it is a large lake, its depth is rather shallow having a mean depth of 12 meters. Aside from the fact that it is the 11th largest lake in the world, Lake Winnipeg is also a UNESCO Heritage Site. This is because of the pristine forests and rivers found in the eastern side of the lake. What makes this lake special is the fact that it’s home a large number of fish species. However, the bigmouth buffalo and short jaw cisco are considered to be at risk in this lake. Still, the lake is a significant site for birds associated with water. It provides sustenance for both feeding and nesting. Some of the protected areas in Lake Winnipeg include Fisher Bay Provincial Park and Beaver Creek Provincial Park.
5. Lake Erie
This lake has an area of 9,990 sq mi. However, it’s considered to be the shallowest of the Great Lakes in Canada. It has an average depth of 19 m and a maximum of 64 m. Being the shallowest lake also means that Lake Erie was the warmest among the Great Lakes. This became a problem for two nuclear plants in the area since they needed the water to cool the reactors. Still, despite being the warmest lake, Lake Erie’s water freezes almost immediately at the start of winter. Also, you should know that the lake got its name from the Native American people who lived on the lake’s southern shore. The word “Erie” was derived from ‘erielhonan’ which is an Iroquoian word that means “long tail. If you search for a satellite image of Lake Erie, the resemblance is likely.
4. Great Slave Lake
Having a total area of 11,030 sq mi, this lake is considered to be the second-largest lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It is also the deepest lake in North America at 336 fathoms or 614 meters. As for how it got its name, it has nothing to do with slavery. The lake shares its name with the Slavey people of the Dene family. They were part of the Athapaskan tribes that lived on the lake’s southern shore. One of the interesting things about the Great Slave Lake is the Ice Road which is also called the Dettah ice road. It’s a 6.5 km road that connects Dettah to the Northwest Territories. Reaching Dettah during summer will require a 27 km drive through the Ingraham Trail instead.
3. Great Bear Lake
This lake has a total area of 12,096 square miles and it is the 3rd largest lake in Canada. However, it is known to be the largest lake that’s entirely in Canada. Also, the Great Bear Lake can be found in Canada’s boreal forest. However, the lake got its name, not because of bears. The name’s origin came from the Chipewyan word “satudene” which translates as “grizzly bear water people”. Ironically, the Sahtu Dene people got their name from the lake. There’s also the Grizzly Bear Mountain on the lake’s shore which was derived from Chipewyan phrase ‘bear large hill’. Other than that, one of the lake’s interesting features is its clarity.
2. Lake Huron
Seeing this lake for the first time is a magnificent view. Having a surface area of 23, 007 sq mi, you wouldn’t think that this is truly a lake. Nevertheless, it is one of the Great Lakes of North America. However, 9,103 square miles of the lake lies in Michigan and the other 13,904 square miles is in Ontario. That makes this lake one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Interestingly, Lake Huron is home to many people. The city of Sarnia has more than ten thousand people living in it.
1. Lake Superior
Just as the name implies, Lake Superior is the biggest lake in Canada and the largest one in North America. It has an area of 31,700 square miles. That’s more than enough to put some ocean basins to shame. This lake is also known as the largest freshwater lake on Earth. Among the Great Lakes, Lake Superior also has the highest elevation. Of course, this lake had different names in the past. One of them was “gichi-gami” which means “great sea”. The lake got its current name thanks to the British. Needless to say, the chose the name solely because the lake was superior in magnitude compared to the other lakes in the continent.
With millions of lakes in Canada, it would be difficult to pinpoint which of them is the greatest. However, it’s easier to tell which of them are the biggest ones. Of course, the size of these lakes isn’t all there is. Lakes like these tend to have a lot of significance in the surrounding environment. That is especially true for freshwater lakes. In any case, Canada’s lakes beauties and giants at the same time.
I hope that this article on biggest lakes in Canada was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!