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Chapter 2: Location, Borders, and Lakes

2.2: Manitoba’s Lakes

The image was produced by assembling the best Landsat images—those with little or no cloud cover—obtained before 1980. The sensor used was the Multispectral Scanner (MSS) which recorded four spectral bands: band 4, green (0.5 to 0.6 micrometres); band 5, red (0.6 to 0.7 micrometres); band 6, infrared (0.7 to 0.8 micrometres); and band 7, also infrared (0.8 to 1.1 micrometres). Any three of these bands can be combined to make a colour image. In this case the infrared bands were used; hence live healthy vegetation, which reflects large quantities of infrared radiation, appears red. Wooded areas such as Turtle Mountain 1, Riding Mountain 2, and Duck Mountain 3 are prominent. Clear water bodies such as the north end of Lake Winnipeg 4 appear as dark green, whereas sediment-laden water bodies such as Playgreen Lake 5, Kiskittogisu Lake 6, and Kiskitto Lake 7 north of Lake Winnipeg appear milky blue.

During the 1980s, car license plates in Manitoba referred to the province as the “land of 100,000 lakes” and “taking the province as a whole, 15.6 percent of the total area is water… Of 505 lakes in Canada over 100 km2 in area, 74 are wholly or partly located in Manitoba.”[i] Manitoba’s “great lakes” include Lake Winnipeg 4 (by area the sixth largest in Canada), Lake Winnipegosis 8 (the eleventh largest), Lake Manitoba 9, and the Cedar Lake reservoir 10.[ii] Cedar Lake is partly natural but increased in size with the damming of the Saskatchewan River to produce hydroelectricity at Grand Rapids 11. Lake of the Woods 12 lies mostly in Ontario and the U.S.A. but part of it—in the west—lies in Manitoba; in fact, Winnipeg gets its water supply from Shoal Lake, a northwestern embayment of Lake of the Woods.

Other lakes visible in southern and central Manitoba are Whitewater Lake 13, Oak Lake 14, Clear Lake 15, Jackfish Lake 16, the Shoal Lakes 17, Dauphin Lake 18, Lake St. Martin 19, Pelican Lake 20, Swan Lake 21, and Red Deer Lake 22.

The lakes of northern Manitoba are less well known, but have been important in the history of the province and many continue to be important to the native economy of the north as well as the general economy of the province. One series of lakes exists along the course of the Nelson River: Cross Lake 23, Sipiwesk Lake 24, Split Lake 25, and Stephens Lake 26. Several of the lakes immediately north of Lake Winnipeg along the Nelson River system are light blue indicating suspended sediment, probably related indirectly to hydroelectric power developments along the river. North Moose Lake 27 and Hargrave Lake 28 are a similar light blue—although there are no hydro developments near them—and contrast with the dark blue of South Moose Lake 29, Cormorant Lake 30, and Clearwater Lake 31, the latter a deep clear lake, the centerpiece of Clearwater Lake Provincial Park. Granville Lake 32 and Southern Indian Lake 33 are part of the Churchill River system in north-central Manitoba, and to the west is Reindeer Lake 34 most of which is in Saskatchewan. Further north are Tadoule Lake 35 on the Seal River and Nejanilini Lake 36 just south of the Nunavut border.

Most of the large lakes of northeastern Manitoba are part of the Hayes River System—Molson Lake 37, Oxford Lake 38, and Knee Lake 39—and the Gods River System, which includes Island Lake 40 and Gods Lake 41. These lakes are free of suspended sediment and appear dark on the image.

Figure 2.2: Manitoba’s Lakes

Figure 2.2: Manitoba’s Lakes

Figure 2.2

LANDSAT mosaic of images obtained between 1972 and 1979

Bands used included those recording a portion of the infrared part of the spectrum

Scale: 1:5,600,000


[i] Welsted, J. “Manitoba’s Water Resources” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People eds. J. Welsted, J. Everitt and C.Stadel. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1996, 266.

[ii] McGinn, R.A. in Welsted, Everitt and Stadel op cit., 1996, 6-7.