Lake Simcoe is a lake in southern Ontario, Canada, the fourth-largest
lake wholly in the province, after
Lake Nipigon, Lac Seul, and Lake
Nipissing. At the time of the first European contact in the 17th
century the lake was called Ouentironk ("Beautiful Water") by the
Wyandot (Huron) people. It was also known as
Toronto until it was
renamed by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper
Canada, in memory of his father, Captain John Simcoe, Royal Navy.
The lake is bordered by Simcoe County, Durham Region, and York Region.
The city of
Barrie is located on Kempenfelt Bay, and
located at the entrance to
Lake Couchiching. The watershed draining
into the lake contains a population of roughly half a million people,
including the northern portion of the
Greater Toronto Area
Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The town of Georgina lies along the entire south shore of
and consists of smaller residential towns and communities, including
Keswick on Cook's Bay, Sutton, Jackson's Point, Pefferlaw, and Udora.
The town of
Innisfil occupies the western shore south of
north of Bradford.
Eastside Simcoe includes the towns of Beaverton, Brechin and Lagoon
2 Watershed and navigation
3 Georgina island
6 Geology and physiography
7 Environmental problems
8 Marine Police
10 External links
Lake Simcoe is a remnant of a much bigger, prehistoric lake known as
Lake Algonquin. This lake's basin also included
Lake Huron, Lake
Lake Nipigon, and
Lake Nipissing. The melting
of an ice dam at the close of the last ice age greatly reduced water
levels in the region, leaving the lakes of today.
At the time of the first European contact in the 17th century, the
lake was called Ouentironk ("Beautiful Water") by the Wyandot (Huron)
natives. In 1687, Lahontan called it
Lake Taronto, an Iroquoian term
meaning gateway or pass; Taronto had originally referred to The
Narrows, a channel of water through which
Lake Simcoe discharges into
Lake Couchiching. (Natural Resources
Canada gives a related
translation: "it originated as the Mohawk phrase tkaronto, which means
"where there are trees standing in the water". According to several
Mohawk speakers and aboriginal language expert John Steckley. Mohawks
used the phrase to describe The Narrows, where Hurons and other
natives drove stakes into the water to create fish weirs. Radiocarbon
dating of surviving stakes reveals that the weirs at The Narrows were
in use more than 4,000 years ago.") Since then, many subsequent
mapmakers adopted this name for it, though cartographer Vincenzo
Coronelli is thought to have introduced the more commonly used
Toronto in a map he created in 1695.
Map of Lac de Frontenac (
Lake Ontario) from the late 1600s, showing
Teiaiagon and Lac Taronto, now known as
The name 'Toronto' found its way to the current city through its use
in the name for the
Toronto Carrying-Place Trail (or
a portage running between
Ontario and Georgian Bay, that passed
Lake Toronto, which in turn was used as the name for an early
French fort located at the foot of the
Toronto Passage, on Lake
Ontario. The Severn River, its outlet stream, was once called
'Rivière de Toronto' which flows into Georgian Bay's Severn Sound,
then called the 'Baie de Toronto'.
The later French traders referred to it as Lac aux Claies, meaning
Lake of Grids (or Trellises)" in reference to the Huron fishing weirs
in the lake.
It was renamed by
John Graves Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe in 1793 in memory of his father,
Captain John Simcoe. Captain Simcoe was born on 28 November 1710, in
Staindrop, in County Durham, northeast
England and served as an
officer in the Royal Navy, dying of pneumonia aboard his ship, HMS
Pembroke, on 15 May 1759.
The lake is about 30 kilometres (19 mi) long, 25 kilometres
(16 mi) wide and 722 square kilometres (279 sq mi) in
area. It is shaped somewhat like a fist with the index finger and
thumb extended. The thumb forms
Kempenfelt Bay on the west, the wrist
Lake Couchiching to the north, and the extended finger is Cook's Bay
on the south. Couchiching was at one time thought of as a third bay of
Simcoe, known as the Bristol Channel; however, the narrows between the
two bodies of water separate them enough to consider this to be
another lake. The narrows, known as "where trees stand in the water",
an interpretation of the word 'Toronto', was an important fishing
point for the
First Nations peoples who lived in the area, and the
Mohawk term toran-ten eventually gave its name to
Toronto by way of
the portage route running south from that point, the Toronto
Regarding the translation of 'Toronto' as meaning "where trees stand
in the water", this would have been the likely outcome of the Huron
practise of driving stakes into the channel sediments to corral fish.
Fresh-cut saplings placed in the water and sediments would have
sprouted branches and leaves, persisting for some time, leading to a
place "where trees stand in the water".
Watershed and navigation
Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
A number of southern
Ontario rivers flow, generally north, into the
lake, draining 2,581 km2 (997 sq mi) of land. From the
east, the Talbot River, part of the
Trent–Severn Waterway is the
most important river draining into
Lake Simcoe, connecting the lake
with the Kawartha lakes system and
Lake Ontario. From its connection
Lake Couchiching, the Severn River is the only drainage from the
lake to Georgian Bay, part of
Lake Huron (Simcoe itself is not one of
the Great Lakes). The canal locks of the Trent-Severn Waterway make
this connection navigable.
A number of creeks and rivers flow into the lake:
Main article: Georgina Island
Lake Simcoe contains a large island, Georgina, which along with Snake
Island and Fox Island forms the reserve of the Chippewas of Georgina
Island First Nation. The lake is dotted with several smaller islands,
Thorah Island (a cottage destination), Strawberry Island (a
Basilian retreat), Snake Island, and Fox Island. Pope John Paul II
stayed on Strawberry Island for four days just before World Youth Day
2002 in Toronto. Before the completion of the Trent Severn
Waterway, the water level on
Lake Simcoe was quite low enabling
residents to cross in wagons or walk in ankle deep water to the
mainland. However, when it was completed, the water table increased by
Lake Simcoe frozen over, seen from Jackson's Point
The lake has little commercial activity, but sees many recreational
uses. In the winter, it freezes over completely and hosts a number of
ice fishing competitions, making it one of the most intensely fished
lakes in Ontario. However, claims that it is one of the world's
largest lakes that freeze over completely in winter are pure
speculation, and, in fact, spurious;
Canada alone has a large number
lakes of the same size or larger that do the same.
In the summer, fishing is still an attraction; however, there are also
a number of poker runs, jet-skiing, and other boating events. The lake
is surrounded with summer cottages leading heavy recreational and
boating use in summer.
There are a number of beaches which attract visitors from the GTA as
Lake Simcoe has a reputation for cleaner and warmer water than the
Ontario beaches. Many of the beaches are used for kite
surfing as well. Willow Beach in Georgina on the south shore is one of
the largest and most popular public beaches on
There are seven yacht clubs (sailing) around the lake, which host a
number of regattas, and an active sailing community exists on the
The lake also forms part of the Trent-Severn Waterway system that
Ontario and Georgian Bay/
Lake Simcoe is also well known for its scuba diving. The ship J. C.
Morrison sank in 1857 and is a great dive site off centennial beach.
There are also a number of other popular scuba diving entrance points
popular among fresh water divers.
Kempenfelt Bay is the most popular
for scuba divers as it is the deepest. Visibility ranges from over 30
feet to near none.
When a lake is healthy, cold-water fish such as lake trout, herring,
and whitefish are abundant and active. It is sometimes known as
Canada's ice fishing capital.
Geology and physiography
Lake Simcoe as it is located in Ontario
The lake is located on Paleozoic limestone of the Ordovician period.
However, due to deep deposits of glacial sediments, this bedrock only
appears exposed along the lakeshore on Georgina Island. This rock,
however, also appears along the shore of
Lake Couchiching, where
sediments are thinner. The outlet of the lake at the north end of Lake
Couchiching is controlled by Precambrian bedrock which first makes its
appearance about mid-way along this lake. As a result, the lake has
persisted to the present, with the outlet-flow unable to cut down
through the rock, and thereby draining the lake. This is unlike its
one-time smaller sister-lake of '
Lake Minesing' to the west, being a
Lake Algonquin, and, later the Nipissing stage of Lake
Huron. This lake's outlet was founded on sediments located near
Edenvale, which have largely been cut through, draining most of the
lake. Today '
Lake Minesing' exists as the Minesing Swamp, but it
re-establishes itself for a short period each spring when spring
run-off floods the basin.
Isostatic rebound from the retreat of the last glaciers results in a
steady rise of
Lake Simcoe, particularly at its south end, and is
further responsible for the deep organic sediments that have
accumulated in its one-time shallow southern arm, known as the Holland
Marsh. Here, organic deposits created by vegetation have largely kept
pace with the steady rise in water level, and today supports extensive
market gardening. All rivers, and most streams, flowing into the lake
have wide, deep, navigable mouths as a consequence of the rising
waters drowning the river channels.
2017 data for the year prior from the
NOAA shows the lake has a yearly
average surface temperature of 2.5 degrees Celsius. 
Lake Simcoe has been victim to significant eutrophication.
has seen a dramatic decline in some fish species, along with an
increase in algae blooms and aquatic weed growth.
from both urban and rural sources have upset the lake's ecosystem and
fostered excessive aquatic plant growth, raising water temperatures,
and decreasing oxygen levels, thereby rendering limited breeding
Lake Simcoe has been victim to zebra mussel, purple loosestrife, black
crappie, spiny water flea, round goby, rusty crayfish and Eurasian
The zebra mussel, which arrived in North American waters in 1985,
originated in the
Black Sea and
Caspian Sea area and is thought to
have been brought to North America in the ballast of foreign
freighters. Zebra mussels are particularly harmful to
because they increase the clarity of the water allowing sunlight to
penetrate to the bottom of the lake, where more algae and aquatic
weeds can grow, accelerating the eutrophication process.
Rainbow Smelt are another introduced species and they were first
observed in the early 1960s. They were believed to compete with native
Lake Whitefish and be somewhat responsible for a decline in their
Several initiatives, such as the
Lake Simcoe Environmental Management
Strategy (LSEMS), the
Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation, and the
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, are making efforts to
rectify some of the lake's environmental woes. A local activist group,
The Ladies of the Lake, are using the $250,000 they raised from the
sale of a nude picture calendar to rally government, business, the
school system, and the local citizenry to rescue the lake. Several
towns and communities on the lakeshore depend on
Lake Simcoe for their
Despite its delicate ecological balance, and its recovering freshwater
fishery, the Region of York is currently finalizing plans for a large
capacity sewage treatment plant to be located on the Holland River
in Cook's Bay. This plant's purpose is to support intensification of
development in the
Lake Simcoe watershed.
Ontario Provincial Police, South Simcoe Police, York Regional Police,
Durham Regional Police, and
Barrie Police have marine units that
patrol on the waters of the lake.
^ a b "
Lake Simcoe". World
Lake Database. International Lake
Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC). 1999. Retrieved 18 December
^ a b c d Guan, Xian (2009). "Monitoring
Lake Simcoe Water Quality
using Landsat TM Images" (PDF). uwspace.uwaterloo.ca. University of
Waterloo. p. 24. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
Lake Simcoe". Corporation of the Town of Georgina Official Website.
Town of Georgina. 2014. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013.
Retrieved 17 December 2014.
^ a b "
Lake Simcoe Region Authority A Watershed For Life".
Region Conservation Authority. 2014. Archived from the original on 26
December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
^ "National Data Buoy Center". National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's National Data Buoy Center. U.S. Dept. of Commerce. 1
October 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
Lake Areas and Elevation". Lakes. Atlas of Canada.
Archived from the original on 2007-04-10. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
^ "The real story of how
Toronto got its name". Natural Resources
Canada. Archived from the original on 2011-12-09. Retrieved
^ Rayburn, Alan. Place Names in Ontario. University of
^ John Paul to rest as cross makes way through Toronto
^ a b c "Addressing The Issue". Archived from the original on
2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
NOAA View Global Data".
NOAA Global Data Viewer. NOAA. 2017.
Retrieved September 7, 2017. can be determined by moving the mouse
over the area of the lake
^ Walker, Susan (2007-03-03). "
Lake Simcoe `Ladies' to the rescue".
The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
^ a b "Invasive Species". Archived from the original on 2008-12-03.
^ nurun.com. "Invasive crayfish a plenty". orilliapacket.com.
Retrieved 18 January 2017.
^ "UYSSolutions Information - UYSSolutions". uyssolutions.ca.
Retrieved 18 January 2017.
"State of the
Lake Simcoe Watershed 2003".
Lake Simcoe Region
Conservation Authority. Archived from the original on 2005-04-08.
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