Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake (French: Grand lac des Esclaves), or the Great Lake of the Dene (French: Grand lac des Dénés), known traditionally as Tıdeè in the Tłı̨chǫ language, Tinde’e in the Yellowknife language, Tu Nedhé in Dëne Sųłıné Yatıé, and Tucho in the Dehcho Dene language, is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada (after Great Bear Lake), the deepest lake in North America at 614 metres (336 fathoms; 2,014 ft), and the tenth-largest lake in the world. It is 469 km (291 mi) long and 20 to 203 km (12 to 126 mi) wide. It covers an area of 27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi) in the southern part of the territory. Its given volume ranges from 1,070 km3 (260 cu mi) to 1,580 km3 (380 cu mi) and up to 2,088 km3 (501 cu mi) making it the 10th or 12th largest by volume.
|Great Slave Lake|
|Tıdeè (Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì)|
Tinde’e (Wıı̀lıı̀deh Yatıı̀ / Tetsǫ́t’ıné Yatıé)
Tu Nedhé (Dëne Sųłıné Yatıé)
Tucho (Dehcho Dene Zhatıé)
Great Slave Lake
|Primary inflows||Hay River, Slave River, Taltson River, Lockhart River, Yellowknife River, Snare River (through Marian Lake and Frank Channel), Marian River (through Marian Lake and Frank Channel), Stark River|
|Primary outflows||Mackenzie River|
|Catchment area||971,000 km2 (374,905 sq mi)|
|Max. length||469 km (291 mi)|
|Max. width||203 km (126 mi)|
|Surface area||27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi)|
|Average depth||41 m (135 ft)|
|Max. depth||614 m (2,014 ft)|
|Water volume||1,580 km3 (380 cu mi)/|
|Shore length1||3,057 km (1,900 mi)|
|Surface elevation||156 m (512 ft)|
|Frozen||November - mid June|
|Settlements||Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchokǫ̀, Fort Resolution, Łutselk'e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah, Ndilǫ|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
The lake shares its name with the First Nations peoples of the Dene family called Slavey by their enemies the Cree. Towns situated on the lake include Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchokǫ̀, Fort Resolution, Łutselk'e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah, and Ndilǫ. The only community in the East Arm is Łutselk'e, a hamlet of about 350 people, largely Chipewyan Indigenous peoples of the Dene Nation, and the abandoned winter camp and Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Reliance. Along the south shore, east of Hay River is the abandoned Pine Point Mine and the company town of Pine Point.
Indigenous peoples were the first settlers around the lake after the retreat of glacial ice. Archaeological evidence has revealed several different periods of cultural history, including Northern Plano Paleoindian tradition (8,000 years before present), Shield Archaic (6,500 years), Arctic small tool tradition (3,500 years), and the Taltheilei Shale Tradition (2,500 years before present). Each culture has left a distinct mark in the archaeological record based on type or size of lithic tools.
Great Slave Lake was put on European maps during the emergence of the fur trade towards the northwest from Hudson Bay in the mid 18th century. The name 'Great Slave' came from the Slavey people, one of the Athabaskan tribes living on its southern shores at that time. The name originated with the Cree enslavement of members of the neighbouring tribe. As the French explorers dealt directly with the Cree traders, the large lake was referred to as "Grand lac des Esclaves" which was eventually translated into English as "Great Slave Lake".
British fur trader Samuel Hearne explored Great Slave Lake in 1771 and crossed the frozen lake, which he named Lake Athapuscow. In 1897-1898, the American frontiersman Charles "Buffalo" Jones traveled to the Arctic Circle, where his party wintered in a cabin that they had constructed near the Great Slave Lake. Jones's story of how he and his party shot and fended off a hungry wolf pack near Great Slave Lake was verified in 1907 by Ernest Thompson Seton and Edward Alexander Preble when they discovered the remains of the animals near the long abandoned cabin.
In the 1930s, gold was discovered on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, leading to the establishment of Yellowknife which would become the capital of the NWT. In 1960, an all-season highway was built around the west side of the lake, originally an extension of the Mackenzie Highway but now known as Yellowknife Highway or Highway 3. On January 24, 1978, a Soviet Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite, named Kosmos 954, built with an onboard nuclear reactor fell from orbit and disintegrated. Pieces of the nuclear core fell in the vicinity of Great Slave Lake. Almost all of the nuclear debris was recovered by a joint Canadian Armed Forces and United States Armed Forces military operation called Operation Morning Light.
In the late 2010s, many placenames within the Northwest Territories were restored to their indigenous names. It has been suggested that the lake be renamed as well, particularly because of the mention of slavery. "Great Slave Lake is actually a very terrible name, unless you're a proponent of slavery," says Dëneze Nakehk'o, a Northwest Territories educator and founding member of First Nations organization Dene Nahjo. "It's a beautiful place. It's majestic; it's huge. And I don't really think the current name on the map is fitting for that place." He has suggested Tu Nedhé, the Dene Soline name for the lake, as an alternative. Tucho, the Dehcho Dene term for the lake, has also been suggested.
Geography and natural history
The Hay, Slave, Lockhart, and Taltson Rivers are its chief tributaries. It is drained by the Mackenzie River. Though the western shore is forested, the east shore and northern arm are tundra-like. 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 the vast glacial Lake McConnell.
The lake has a very irregular shoreline. The East Arm of Great Slave Lake is filled with islands, and the area is within the proposed Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. 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.
The main western portion of the lake forms a moderately deep bowl with a surface area of 18,500 km2 (7,100 sq mi) and a volume of 596 km3 (143 cu mi). This main portion has a maximum depth of 187.7 m (616 ft) and a mean depth of 32.2 m (106 ft). To the east, McLeod Bay (62°52′N 110°10′W) and Christie Bay (62°32′N 111°00′W) are much deeper, with a maximum recorded depth in Christie Bay of 614 m (2,014 ft)
Bodies of water and tributaries
- Emile River
- Snare River
- Wecho River
- Stagg River
- Yellowknife River
- Beaulieu River
- Waldron River
- Hoarfrost River
- Lockhart River
- Snowdrift River
- La Loche River
- Thubun River
- Terhul River
- Taltson River
- Slave River
- Little Buffalo River
- Buffalo River
- Hay River
- Mosquito Creek
- Duport River
- Marian Lake
- North Arm
- Yellowknife Bay
- Resolution Bay
- Deep Bay
- McLeod Bay
- Christie Bay
- Sulphur Cove
- Presqu'ile Cove
- Rocher River
- Frank Channel
Great Slave Lake has one ice road known as the Dettah ice road. It is a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) road that connects the Northwest Territories capital of Yellowknife to Dettah, a small First Nations fishing community also in the Northwest Territories. To reach the community in summer the drive is 27 km (17 mi) via the Ingraham Trail.
Ice Lake Rebels
From 2014 to 2016, Animal Planet aired a documentary series called Ice Lake Rebels. It takes place on Great Slave Lake, and details the lives of houseboaters on the lake.
- List of lakes of Canada
- Mackenzie Northern Railway
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The surface area of Great Slave Lake is 27,200 km2 with a total volume of 1,070 km3 (van der Leeden et al. 1990)
- Great Slave
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Great Slave Lake (category)|
- Great Slave Lake pictures from Picsearch.com
- Texts on Wikisource:
- "Perspective on the Great Slave Lake Railway" Manuscript at Dartmouth College Library