Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lake Simcoe is a lake in southern Ontario, Canada, the fourth largest lake in the province. At the time of the first European contact in the 17th century the lake was called Ouentironk ("Beautiful Water") by the Huron natives. It was also known as Lake Toronto. Early French traders named it Lac aux Claies, the "lake of weirs", after the many fishing weirs found there. It was renamed by John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in the late 18th century for his father.
The lake is about 30km long and 25km wide. Its area is roughly 720kmē. It is shaped somewhat like a fist with the index finger and thumb extended. The thumb forms Kempenfelt Bay on the west, the wrist Cook's Bay to the south, and the extended finger is Lake Couchiching on the north. Couchiching can be considered a third bay of Simcoe, but the narrows between the two separate them enough to be considered two lakes. The narrows, known as "the place where trees grow over the water" was an important fishing point for the First Nations peoples that lived in the area, and the Mohawk term, toran-ten eventually gave name to Toronto by way of the portage route running south from that point, the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail.
Lake Simcoe contains a large island, Georgina Island, on which there is a First Nations reserve. The lake is dotted with several smaller islands including: Thorah Island (a cottage destination), Strawberry Island (a Basillican retreat), Snake Island and Fox Island. A number of major rivers of southern Ontario flow, generally north, into the lake, draining 2581kmē of land. The Trent-Severn Waterway is the most important river system draining into Lake Simcoe, connecting the lake with the Great Lakes Lake Huron and Lake Ontario (Simcoe itself is not a Great Lake).
The northern shore of the lake contains thousands of cottages, and is one of the most popular vacation areas in Ontario.
Ecologically, there has been some concern about Lake Simcoe. Although it is sometimes known as Canada's ice fishing capital, the lake no longer supports a naturally breeding coldwater fishery. Phosphorus emissions from both urban and rural sources have upset the lake's ecosystem and fostered excessive aquatic plant growth, raising water temperatures, decreasing oxygen levels and thereby rendering limited breeding grounds inhospitable. An initiative, the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS), is under way in an effort to rectify some of the lake's environmental woes. Several towns and communities on the lakeshore depend on Lake Simcoe for their drinking water.
Lake Simcoe is a remnant of a much bigger, prehistoric lake known as Lake Algonquin . This lake's basin also included Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, 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 that we know today.
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