Great Slave Lake

It's 456 kilometres (285 miles) long, 240 kilometres (150mi) wide and has an area of 28,438 square km (10,980 sq. mi.).

The statistics boggle the mind, but the reality is even more imposing. For those who prefer the understatement: There's a lot of water in Great Slave Lake.







This massive water body holds many titles, including the second largest lake lying entirely within Canada, the fifth largest in North America and the 10th largest in the world.

Canada's greatest river, the Mackenzie, 4,241 km (2,651 mi) in length, flows out of its western end.

Interestingly, the lake use to be even larger. Bordering the southern shoreline are a series of sand ridges and dunes that mark the former shoreline of the lake.

The Lake is partially on the edge of the Canadian Shield and partly on the Interior Plateau (the north end of the Great Plains).

The lake is cold and very deep; at 616 metres (2,027 feet), it is the sixth deepest in the world. Ice stays on the lake for about eight months each year and covers it completely for about five and a half months.

The ice begins forming in smaller bays about mid-October, ending navigation on the lake. By March, the ice has reached its maximum thickness of five to six feet.

Pressure ridges on the vast expanse of ice can be two to three meters, (six to 10 feet) high and 48 km (30 mi.) long.

By the first week of June, areas of open water form by the shores and the main body can be clear of ice from mid to late June and by July and August people pack the beaches to go swimming in the lake.

Small craft owners should be aware that the lake is subject to sudden and violent storms. Within minutes, high winds and waves can create extremely dangerous conditions. Sand reefs and shallows may make it difficult to reach shore in such emergencies, so keep a close eye on the weather.

Samuel Hearne was the first European to locate and explore Great Slave Lake. He discovered it on December 24, 1771 and dubbed it "Athapuscow Lake".

Entries in his journal talked about abundant game and it took his party 16 days to cross the lake at a narrow point because they kept stopping to hunt deer and beaver, which were plentiful.

Fishing in the lake was apparently even better than it is now:

"The lake is stored with great quantities of very fine fish...The trout in this lake are of the largest I ever saw...Pike are also of an incredible size in this extensive water..."