Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario -

Also known as:  Rideau Lakes

One of the largest lakes along the route of the Rideau Waterway in Ontario, Canada is Big Rideau Lake. This lake is controlled by a canal system called the Rideau Canal Waterway. With 45 locks at 23 stations along the canal, Rideau Waterway connects to more than nine lakes including Big Rideau Lake, Lower Rideau Lake, Upper Rideau Lake, Newboro Lake, Clear Lake, Indian Lake, Opinicon Lake, Sand Lake, and Whitefish Lake. Many of the locks operate today much as they did 160 years ago with big wooden doors and hand cranks. The Rideau Canal Waterway has been in continuous operation since it first opened in 1832. Big Rideau Lake connects to Upper and Lower Rideau Lakes and is the perfect place to visit with your family and friends.

With 1,610 acres of cool water, Big Rideau Lake is home to fish species such as northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, lake trout, crappie, sunfish, rock bass, and walleye. Big Rideau Lake is the deepest lake in the Rideau chain with a maximum depth of 328 feet and an average depth of 41 feet, so boating, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing are popular activities. There are a multitude of islands dotting the lake’s interior that are fun to visit and are used for recreational activities. Many of the islands host events like day camps and firework shows. Tennis, volleyball, and even sailing races are hosted on some of the islands as well. If exploring is in your blood, make your way down the chain of lakes to visit one or all of the connecting lakes.

In winter, a section of the Rideau Canal is open to ice skating and officially becomes the world’s largest ice skating rink. Big Rideau Lake also hosts an annual international speed skating tournament called Skate the Lake. Portland, a city located at the southeastern shore of the lake, is the primary event planner. The city of Portland was one of the first settlements along the Rideau Waterway and is now a thriving city. Portland is home to the Big Rideau Lake Association whose purpose is “to preserve and enhance the quality of life on Big Rideau Lake.”

Big Rideau Lake provides a haven for many species of wildlife including loon, blue heron, and osprey. On any typical day it is not uncommon to see half a dozen turtles sunning themselves on a log. By day hummingbirds flit back and forth and by night fireflies light up the air. Boaters keen on seeing wildlife may see beavers, otters, and even muskrats following in their wake. There is no better way to see wildlife off the lake than hiking through the wilderness. The Rideau Trail is popular among tourists for its range of terrain from flat farmland to rugged shield. Make your way through the forest hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Another trail to experience is the Cataraqui Trail, a four season experience for hikers, bikers, equestrians, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers.

Located at the Northeastern edge of Big Rideau Lake is Murphys Point Provincial Park. This park offers tours of a restored mica mine and trails, as well as boat-in campsites on Big Rideau Lake. With its mix of open fields, mature forests and wetlands, Murphys Point offers a diversity of wildlife. Birders will love to visit during the warmer months to catch a glimpse of the bold feathers of scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, yellow warblers and Baltimore orioles. These spring and summer months also bring with them an astonishing assortments of wildflowers.

With an abundance of vacation rentals and real estate properties for sale, Big Rideau Lake provides a variety of short-term and long-term housing options. Plan a trip to see this lake and everything the Rideau Waterway have to offer.

Things to do at Big Rideau Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park

Fish species found at Big Rideau Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish

Big Rideau Lake Photo Gallery

Big Rideau Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Parks Canada

Surface Area: 1,610 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 407 feet

Average Depth: 40 feet

Maximum Depth: 328 feet

Completion Year: 1832

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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