The name of Lake Ontario has originated from the Iroquoian language which means “Lake of Shining Waters”. Historical records tell us that the first nation that arrived in the area came 7000 year ago. Today the lake is considered among the five great lakes currently existing in North America. Geographically the three sides of the lake i: e the north, southwest and west is surrounded by Ontario which is a province of Canada. The rest of the two sides of the Lake i: e the south and east is surrounded by the famous New York State. Today the lake is a source of great benefit to the local residents as the main source of drinking water in Ontario is the Lake. About 9 million people living their lives in Ontario and New York are able to get clean water from the Lake Ontario.
An Ecological Wonder
The overall size of the lake and its connection with the Atlantic Ocean has made the lake an ecological wonder. The water which is currently flowing in the great lakes also flows through the lake Ontario. However due to overfishing in the 1800’s and the pollution that generated because of the development in the 1900’s many fish got extinct in the lake. Statistics tell us that more or less 10 species of fish are no more there in the lake. Though damage has already been done and such damages are generally irreparable, efforts are being made to make the lake naturally bio diverse again.
From the start and till later on, the lake used to serve as a border between Huron and Iroquois Confederacy. Historical records also tell us that in 1600’s the Iroquois pushed the Huron to the south of Ontario and after driving them out the Iroquois started to live at the northern shore of Lake Ontario. However when the Iroquois left the area and another nation by the name Ojibwa occupied the area and started to use the name of Iroquois.
In 1615 Étienne Brûlé arrived at the lake and he was the first European to do so. As is the case with the French they started to use different names for the lakes such as Lac de St. Louis. In 1660 the lake was named as Lacus Ontarius; the name was given by Francis Creuxius. Similarly a French map discovered in 1712 named the lake as “Lac Frontenac”.
Historical records also communicate to us that 14000 years ago a glacier by the name of Laurentide stood at what we call Canada today. However later the glacier started to melt and as a result left behind Lake Iroquois. Today a large portion of present day Lake Ontario consists of once known Lake Iroquois.
Water Temperature of the Lake
Due to the warm weather that arrives from the southwest, The lake Ontario never freezes over though such a phenomenon may happen once in a blue moon. In the month of August the water temperature of the lake is 75F however this water temperature gets lowered to 37F in the month of September. The entire area surrounding the Lake Ontario gets affected by the lake effect snow. The phenomenon of Lake effect snow has a huge impact so much so that city as far Syracuse NY also gets affected. In fact it is one of the snowiest regions currently existing in United States of America.
Life in the Lake
There are a lot species of fish living in the Lake Ontario some well-known species are Walleye, Chinook salmon and Coho salmon. The lake also consists of trout fish which also includes steel head and rainbow. More than half of the coastal area’s bottom consists of invasive mussels. The climate of the lake is very good for trees and the growth of trees such as apples, plums, pears and peaches have really beautified the whole area. There are many birds around the world that have the tendency to migrate to different locations of the world. Some of these birds migrate to Lake Ontario as well. The names of these birds are swans, ducks, loons, geese and water fowl etc. Hunting birds like eagles and hawks are also in abundance in the area.
Settlements around the lake
The shores at the western side of the lake are occupied by a large city by the name of Golden Horsesshoe. The watershed of Lake Ontario is the home to about 9 million people of Canada. The popular ports which are on the Canadian region are Cobourg, Oshawa, Kingston and St. Catharines. All of these mentioned ports are near the River outlet of St.Lawrence. The shore of the lake which is on the American side consists of mostly rural area. The only exception is Rochester and few small ports of Sackets Harbor and Oswego. The watershed of Lake Ontario on the American side is home to 2 million people.
Geography of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is part of the great lakes and is the eastern most. The lake has the smallest surface area of 18,960 km2. The lake is considered the 14 th largest lake of the world. The shoreline of the lake is 1,146km however this shoreline also includes the islands. Since the lake is the part of hydrologic chain hence it has the mean surface elevation which is the lowest standing at 243 feet above the level of the sea. The maximum length of the lake is 311 kilometers; similarly the width of the lake is 85 km. The depth of the lake (average) is 283 ft. The main source of water in the lake is the river of Niagara. As is the scenario with all the greater lakes the water levels keeps on fluctuating throughout the year. These fluctuations are the part of the ecology of the lake. These fluctuations also cause the maintenance of wetlands. A freshwater fishery is also their however harmful factors such as pollution, invasive species and over fishing have negatively affected it.
The islands of Lake Ontario are located either on the north-eastern or eastern shores. Most of these islands are located between Kingston which is the outlet of the lake and Prince Edward County headland. At the north western shore of the lake the Toronto Islands are located. The largest Island currently existing in the basin is the wolf Island. The island is situated near Kingston and residents of both Canada and USA can reach it through a ferry. The names of other islands on Lake Ontario are
1) Big Island
2) Association Island
3) Amherst Island
4) Simcoe Island
5) Nicholson Island
6) Galloo Island
7) Grenadier Island
8) Waupoos Island
9) Garden Island
Some popular light houses are
1) Thirty Mile Point Light
2) Beach Canal Lighthouse
3) Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
4) Braddock Point Light
5) Sodus Point Light
6) Stony Point Light
7) Oswego Harbor West Pierhead Light
8) Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
9) Selkirk Lighthouse
10) Presqu’ile Lighthouse
The local government does not permit the off-shore generation of the off-shore wind power. Similarly there was once a time when the government allowed the industrial scale fishing in the lake however due to over fishing industrial scale fishing is not allowed any more. However recreational fishing is very much allowed in the lake.
Swimming in the Lake:
Almost 50 people had the privilege to swim across the lake. The first person to do so was Marilyn Bell who accomplished this task in the year 1954. While doing the feat the age of Marilyn was 16. The famous Toronto Marilyn Bell Park has been named after her. The park was established in the year 1984.
Some Quick Facts:
Some of the facts which are linked with Lake Ontario are as follows.
1. The lake is a great source of drinking water for about 9 million people
2. As compared to any other watershed in the country the number of Canadians living in Lake Ontario is high.
3. Since the Lake is very deep hence it never freezes completely. According to historical evidences the surface of the lake has just frozen 5 times and the last time it froze was 1934.
4. The origin of the lake is the glaciers which existed 14000 to 10,000 years ago.
5. The lake contains 21% of the surface freshwater of the world.
6. The lake is listed as the 14 th largest lake currently existing in the world.
7. The entire water comprising the great lakes first flows through the Lake Ontario and after that it flows into the famous Atlantic Ocean.
8. It takes about 6 years for the water to flow from lake Ontario to river of St. Lawrence
9. Lake Ontario is considered the most threatened among the Great Lakes.
10. The famous Niagara falls also decants into the Lake Ontario
11. Part of the lake is in Canada and part of the lake is in United states of America
12. There are more than 100 beaches currently existing at the Lake Ontario.