Great Slave Lake (French:
Grand lac des Esclaves) is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada (behind
Lake), the deepest lake in North America at , and the ninth-largest lake in the
Eastern arm of the Great Slave
It is long and wide. It covers an area of in the
southern part of the territory. Its volume is . The lake shares its
name with the Slavey North American Indians
. Towns around the lake
include: Yellowknife, Fort Providence, Hay River and Fort
Resolution. The only community in the East Arm is
Lutselk'e, a hamlet of about 350 people, largely Chipewyan aboriginals of the Dene Nation.
Nations peoples were the first settlers around the lake, building
communities including Dettah, which still exists today.
British fur trader Samuel Hearne explored the area in 1771 and
crossed the frozen lake, which he initially named Lake Athapuscow
(after an erroneous French speaker's pronunciation of
In the 1930s, gold
was discovered there, which
led to the establishment of Yellowknife, which would become the
of the NWT
In 1967, an all-season highway was built around the lake,
originally an extension of the Mackenzie Highway
but now known as
24, 1978, a Soviet Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite, named Cosmos 954, built with an on board nuclear reactor fell from orbit
Pieces of the nuclear core fell in the
vicinity of Great Slave Lake. The nuclear debris was picked up by a group
called Operation Morning Light formed with both American and Canadian members.
Geography and natural history
and Slave Rivers
are its chief tributaries.
drained by the Mackenzie
Though the western shore is forested, the
east shore and northern arm are tundra
The southern and eastern shores reach the edge of the Canadian Shield
. Along with other lakes
such as the Great Bear and Athabasca, it is a remnant of a vast post-glacial lake.
Arm of Great Slave Lake is filled with islands, and the area is
within Thaydene Nene National Park.
The Pethei Peninsula separates the East Arm
into McLeod Bay in the north and Christie Bay in the south. The
lake is at least partially frozen during an average of eight months
of the year. During winter, the ice is thick enough for semi-trailer trucks
to pass over using
. Until 1967, when an all-season
highway was built around the lake, goods were shipped across the
ice to Yellowknife, located on the north shore. Goods and fuel are
still shipped across frozen lakes up the winter road to the diamond mines located near
the headwaters of the Coppermine River, Northwest Territories.
A ferry is required
to access Yellowknife during spring when the ice is not present in
a solid sheet along Highway 3 where it crosses the Mackenzie
The main western portion of the lake forms a moderately deep bowl
with a surface area of and a volume of . This main portion has a
maximum depth of and a mean depth of . To the east, McLeod Bay (62
52N, 110 10W) and Christie Bay (62 32N, 111W) are much deeper, with
a maximum recorded depth in Christie Bay of .
On some of the plains surrounding Great Slave Lake, climax polygonal bog
have formed, the early
successional stage to which often consists of pioneer Black Spruce
Great Slave Lake, in a remote corner of Wood Buffalo
National Park, is the nesting site of a remnant flock of Whooping Cranes, discovered in 1954.
one ice road on Great Slave Lake, the
Dettah ice road, which connects from Yellowknife, the capital of
the Northwest Territories to Dettah, also in the Northwest Territories.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Black Spruce: Picea mariana,
GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
- Canada. (1981). Sailing directions, Great Slave Lake and
Mackenzie River. Ottawa: Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans. ISBN
- Gibson, J. J., Prowse, T. D., & Peters, D. L. (2006).
Partitioning impacts of climate and regulation on water level
variability in Great Slave Lake. Journal of Hydrology. 329
- Hicks, F., Chen, X., & Andres, D. (1995). Effects of ice on
the hydraulics of Mackenzie River at the outlet of Great Slave
Lake, N.W.T.: A case study. Canadian Journal of Civil
Engineering. Revue Canadienne De G̐ưenie Civil. 22 (1),
- Kasten, H. (2004). The captain's course secrets of Great
Slave Lake. Edmonton: H. Kasten. ISBN 097366410X
- Jenness, R. (1963). Great Slave Lake fishing industry.
Ottawa: Northern Co-ordination and Research Centre. Dept. of
Northern Affairs and National Resources.
- Keleher, J. J. (1972). Supplementary information regarding
exploitation of Great Slave Lake salmonid community. Winnipeg:
Fisheries Research Board, Freshwater Institute.
- Mason, J. A. (1946). Notes on the Indians of the Great
Slave Lake area. New Haven: Published for the Department of
Anthropology, Yale University, by the Yale University Press.
- Sirois, J., Fournier, M. A., & Kay, M. F. (1995). The
colonial waterbirds of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories an
annotated atlas. Ottawa, Ont: Canadian Wildlife Service. ISBN