Why does Canada have so many lakes?

Lakes are amazing for their beauty, the recreational opportunities, and the fact that they provide much-needed drinking water to communities. Canada is a large country, with a lot of lakes! The answer to the question “Why does Canada have so many lakes?” is simple—it’s a big country! It’s the second biggest country in the world, so it makes sense that there would be a lot of lakes within its borders. 

There are so many different lakes in Canada, and they vary quite a bit by the region they are located in. We’ll look at some of the facts about Canadian lakes, different lake regions in Canada, some notable lakes, and what are some of the features of lakes and how they can be used. 

Canadian lake facts

Let’s start out by looking at some interesting facts about lakes in Canada:

  • According to a study by McGill University, there are 879,800 lakes in Canada. However, other sources claim that there are over two million lakes in Canada. Because so much of the country is inhabited and inaccessible, it is hard to pinpoint the exact number of lakes in the country.
  • The deepest lake in Canada is Great Slave Lake, which has a depth of 614 meters and is located in the Northwest Territories.
  • The largest lake that is 100% in Canada is Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories; it is 31,328 km2.
  • Four of the five Great Lakes (Ontario, Superior, Erie, and Huron) and are partially located in Canada, with some of the area in the US as well. The Great Lakes make up 84% of North America’s surface freshwater.
  • Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world; half of this lake is located in Ontario and the total area of the lake is 82,103 km².

Lake regions in Canada

Despite differing numbers, there are a lot of lakes in Canada. There are a few areas where lakes are more abundant and concentrated. Here are the top lake regions in Canada:

  • The Great Lakes in Ontario are the single biggest lake region of the country and are made up of Lakes Huron, Erie, Superior, and Ontario.
  • Central Manitoba. Lake Winnipeg is the 6th largest lake in the country and has an area of 23,750 km2. The southern end of the lake is just 55km from Winnipeg, the largest city, and is a popular getaway for people who live in this area.
  • The Northwest Territories is home to some of the largest lakes in Canada.
  • The Rocky Mountains. This mountain range borders British Columbia and Alberta and is home to a number of beautiful alpine lakes. Popular tourist destinations like Banff and Jasper are known for beautiful lakes like Maligne Lake or Peyto Lake. 
  • British Columbia interior: There is a region of BC known as “Lake Country” made up of some beautiful lakes, near the cities of Kelowna and Vernon. It is a popular recreation spot, especially during the warm summer months. 

Notable Canadian lakes

There are a lot of lakes in Canada, but some are more famous than others. Here are some of the most famous and notable lakes in Canada:

  • Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta: This lake is absolutely stunning and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
  • Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia: Known for its stunning turquoise colour, this lake is a very popular destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
  • Lake Ontario: This lake provides drinking water to people living in Ontario and in New York, USA. It is also a popular recreation spot for people living in the massive urban center of Toronto and the surrounding areas. 
  • Lake of Bays, Ontario: This is home to Muskoka, or Ontario’s cottage country. Lake of Bays is where people from the city go to escape to their cottages for some time of rest and relaxation.
  • Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories: This is the deepest lake in Canada and the world’s 9th biggest lake, so you know it’s something special! It is frozen for much of the year, but melts in the summer and offers a lot of excellent recreation opportunities like fishing.

What are lakes used for?

Since there are so many lakes in Canada, the next logical question is to look at what lakes are used for. Why are they important to the country? Why do we even care about lakes in Canada? Here are some things to keep in mind about lakes:

  • Outdoor recreation: Lakes are one of the best ways to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors! You can do so many activities out on the lake including boating (speedboats, or hand-paddled boats like kayaking and canoeing). You can also go hiking around a lake, swim in the lake, or if it freezes over, you can go ice skating on it!
  • Beauty: Lakes are so beautiful and are one of the reasons that Canada is known as a beautiful country. There are tons of lakes to visit, take photos of, and just enjoy the scenery.
  • Drinking water: Many lakes are used as drinking water reservoirs in the country. The water in many Canadian lakes is clean but still needs to be treated by cities and municipalities to be safe to drink.
  • Transportation: It’s possible that some lakes and their corresponding river connections can be used for transportation, whether people (i.e. ferries) or goods that need to be moved.


Even though the exact number of lakes is in debate, there are definitely a lot of lakes in the country! Lakes are beautiful and provide excellent recreation opportunities to get outside and explore the great outdoors. They are also important for providing drinking water to Canadian cities. Canada has so many lakes because it is such a large country. As the second-largest country in the world, it makes sense that there are so many lakes within the borders!

There are a number of lake regions and specific lakes that are notable and famous. Whether you live in Canada and want to explore your backyard, or are visiting as a tourist, make sure you get outside and explore some of the amazing lakes in Canada!

Recent Posts