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Great Bear Lake

Template:Infobox lake

The Great Bear Lake (Slavey: Sahtú /ˈsɑː.t/, French: Grand lac de l'Ours) is the largest lake entirely in Canada (Lake Superior and Lake Huron straddling the Canada-US border are larger), the fourth largest in North America, and the eighth largest in the world. The lake is in the Northwest Territories, on the Arctic Circle between 65 and 67 degrees of northern latitude and between 118 and 123 degrees western longitude, Script error: No such module "convert". above sea level.

The name originated from the words "Satudene" in Denesuline meaning “grizzly bear water people.” The Sahtu Dene people are named after the lake. Grizzly Bear Mountain on the shore of the lake also comes from Denesuline, meaning, “bear large hill.”[1][2]

The Sahoyue (Grizzly Bear Mountain) peninsula on the south side of the lake and the Edacho (Scented Grass Hills) peninsula on the west side form the Saoyú-?ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada.[3][4]


File:Great Bear Lake (depth information).png
Bathymetric map of Great Bear Lake.
File:Mackenzie River drainage basin.PNG
Mackenzie River drainage basin showing Great Bear Lake's position in the Western Canadian Arctic

The lake has a surface area of Script error: No such module "convert". and a volume of Script error: No such module "convert".. Its maximum depth is Script error: No such module "convert". and average depth Script error: No such module "convert".. The shoreline is Script error: No such module "convert". and the catchment area of the lake is Script error: No such module "convert"..[5] Great Bear Lake is covered with ice from late November to July.[6]


Arms of Great Bear Lake include the Smith Arm (northwest), the Dease Arm (northeast), the McTavish Arm (southeast), the McVicar Arm (south) and the Keith Arm (southwest). The community of Deline is located on the Keith Arm near the outflow of the Great Bear River that flows west into the Mackenzie River at Tulita.[7]


Rivers flowing into Great Bear Lake include the Whitefish River,[8] Big Spruce River,[9] Haldane River,[10] Bloody River,[11] Sloan River,[12] Dease River[13] and the Johnny Hoe River.[14]

Prehistoric geology

Great Bear Lake lies between two major physiographic regions: the Kazan Uplands portion of the Canadian Shield and the Interior Plains. It was part of Glacial Lake McConnell in the pre-glacial valleys reshaped by erosional ice during the Pleistocene. Since, the lake has changed from post-glacial rebound following the ice melting. Precambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield form the eastern margin of the McTavish Arm. These rocks of the Precambrian are sedimentary and metamorphic deposits supplemented by igneous intrusions forming dikes and sills.[15]

Human use

The Deline settlement is on the lake, near the headwaters of the Bear River.[16] There is an ice crossing from Deline to the winter road on the far side of the Great Bear River.[17][18]

Three lodges around the lake are destinations for fishing and hunting.[6] In 1995, a Script error: No such module "convert". lake trout was caught, the largest ever caught anywhere by angling.[19]


In 1930, Gilbert LaBine discovered uranium deposits in the Great Bear Lake region. The former mining area Port Radium, site of the Eldorado Mine where pitchblende was discovered, was located on the eastern shore. Echo Bay Mines Limited leased the old camp and mill at Port Radium to recover silver and copper values from 1965 to 1981.[20]


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See also

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  1. ^ Johnson, L. The Great Bear Lake: Its Place in History. Calgary, Alberta: Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) database at the University of Calgary. pp. 236-237. Retrieved on: 2012-01-30.
  2. ^ "Natural Resources Canada-Canadian Geographical Names (Grizzly Bear Mountain)". Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  3. ^ "Saoyú-?ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada". Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  4. ^ "Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy (Saoyú-ʔehdacho)". Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Great Bear Lake". World Lakes Database. International Lake Environment Committee. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference EoEarth was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ "The Atlas of Canada - Toporama". Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Whitefish River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  9. ^ "Big Spruce River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  10. ^ "Haldane River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  11. ^ "Bloody River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  12. ^ "Sloan River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  13. ^ "Dease River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  14. ^ "Johnny Hoe River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. 
  15. ^ Lionel Johnson. "Great Bear Lake" (PDF). Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans Freshwater Institute. Retrieved 2015-02-12. 
  16. ^ "Deline - "Where the Water Flows"". Spectacular Northwest Territories. Northwest Territories. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Impassable ice roads delay holiday travel". CBC News: North. CBC. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Open and Close Dates for the NWT's Community Access Roads". Transportation. Government of the Northwest Territories. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush)". Fisheries & Aquaculture. Province of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  20. ^ Schiller, E A. Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 65-11. Natural Resources Canada. pp. 42–. GGKEY:CR5H58XXBJZ. 
  21. ^ "Deline A" (CSV (3069 KB)). Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Climate ID: 22010KA. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 

External links