Lake Ontario is boarded Ontario, Canada, in the north, and the Niagara Peninsula to the south to New York State, USA. It is one of the five great lakes in North America and the world's largest group of freshwater lakes. Its name comes from the Iroquois "Skanadario," which means "beautiful lake."
The Great Lakes offer some of the best beaches in the world. And these unique beach ecosystems are also an important habit for plants, animals, and migrating birds. Most of the Lake Ontario watershed is dominated by agricultural and rural lands, with some major urban centers along the coasts.
A whopping 25% of Canada's population lives within the Lake Ontario watershed. The lake provides invaluable resources, from drinking water to recreation to livelihood to millions of people. This post will introduce more information about this critical water body.
Lake Ontario Introduction
Lake Ontario is the smallest and most easterly of the Great Lakes and roughly elliptical. The Niagara River is the main feeder of the lake; others include the Genesee, Oswego, and Black rivers from the south and the Trent River from the north. The 30-mile-wide eastern extremity of the lake is crossed by a chain of five islands, where the lake discharges into the St. Lawrence River near Kingston, Ont. The famous Niagara Falls is connected to Lake Erie on the top and Lake Ontario on the bottom. The difference between the two lakes is 99 meters. And the lake is connected with the surrounding lakes and rivers by canals.
The land to the north of Lake Ontario spreads out into broad plains, which are intensively farmed. The industry is concentrated around the port cities of Toronto and Hamilton, Ont., and Rochester, N.Y. Other important ports along the lake include Kingston and Oswego, N.Y.
Lake Ontario Size
- Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes (19,011 km2) in surface area, but its water storage (1,688 km3) is larger than that of Lake Erie (1,639 km3).
- The major axis of the lake extends from east to west for 193 miles (311 km), and the lake has a maximum width of 53 miles (85 km).
- The total area of the lake's drainage basin is 24,720 square miles (64,025 square km), exclusive of the surface area, which is 7,340 square miles (19,011 square km).
- With a mean surface height of 243 feet (74 m) above sea level, the average depth of Lake Ontario is only about 283 feet (86 m), and its deepest point is 802 feet (244 m).
- Its shoreline is about 634 mi (1,020 km) long plus 78 mi (126 km) for islands.
|Length||193 mi (311 km)|
|Width||53 mi (85 km)|
|Surface area||7,340 square miles (19,011 square km)|
|Drainage basin area||24,720 square miles (64,025 square km)|
|Elevation||243 feet (74 m)|
|Depth||283 feet (86 m) average; 802 feet (244 m) maximum|
|Volume||1688 cubic km|
|Shoreline length||1,020 km (excluding islands); 1,146 km (including islands)|
The navigable period is eight months throughout the year. Because of its great depth, the lake does not completely freeze in winter, but ice sheets typically form along the shoreline and in slack water bays, where the lake is not as deep. Its harbors are icebound from mid-December to mid-April.
Because of the size of the lake and its connection to the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Ontario is an ecological wonder. All of the water in the Great Lakes flows through this lake. Fish travel back and forth from the ocean to the freshwater lake. Different parts of the lake offer different habitats, ranging from dunes to wetlands to forests to rocky cliffs, each providing a home to thousands of plant and animal species. With more and more human activities, at least ten fish species have gone extinct, and at least 15 exotic species have been introduced in the last 200 years. While some damage is irreparable, much of the restoration work being done around Lake Ontario is intended to bring some of the lake's natural biodiversity.
The opening of the Welland Canal in 1932 and the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 made Lake Ontario even more important to world shipping. The area around Lake Ontario is densely populated, with one-third of Ontario's population living here. Today, Lake Ontario is home and a source of drinking water to 9-million people living in Ontario, Canada, and New York State, USA.