Great Bear Lake

Great Bear Lake is the largest freshwater lake that lies wholly in Canada. It is situated on the edge of the Canadian Shield, is transected by the Arctic Circle, and is bordered to the south by boreal forest and to the north by tundra. Water from Great Bear Lake drains into Canada's longest river, the Mackenzie. The northern shores of this lake have been inhabited for at least 6000 years by peoples whose livelihoods depended on the caribou.

Great Bear Lake was formed and modified by the advances and retreats of the Pleistocene glaciers. Similar in shape to a piece from a jigsaw puzzle, the lake, which remains covered in ice from late November to late July, has five large arms. Great Bear Lake has been little impacted by development. In fact, scientists use it as a model of a young pristine lake. Its deep, clear, cold waters have very low productivity because nutrient levels are low. The main inhabitants of the lake are the four-horned sculpin, and various amphipods and copepods. Sport fishermen seek the less common lake herring, whitefish, and grayling which are all found in shallower regions of the lake's perimeter. Stoneflies, mayflies, and snails are also abundant on its periphery in spring and early summer.

Location 66N, 120.3W
Surface Area 31,328 km2
Elevation 156 m
Maximum Depth 413 m