Big Whiteshell Lake, Manitoba, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Manitoba -

Manitoba’s Big Whiteshell Lake is a shining star among the 200 lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Fourth largest lake in the park, Big Whiteshell Lake covers about 4,200 acres and includes many bays, inlets and rocky islands. Over 20 miles of shoreline offer a feel of pure wilderness, while trails and scenic vantage points provide plenty of visual adventure to any outing.

Big Whiteshell Lake gains its water from inflows from Goose Lake, Green Lake, Sutcliff lake, Bedford Creek and directly from runoff from the granite outcroppings surrounding the lake. Overflow travels through a short channel to Little Whiteshell Lake and eventually drains into the Whiteshell River. Fewer than 200 cottages grace a small portion of the western shoreline, and most of the eastern bank is within the designated wilderness zone. There are no true roads around the entire lake, and traveling the eastern shore is reserved for those who hike the trails. Canoeing and kayaking are favored modes of transportation in this wilderness area, with several designated canoe trails shown on various park maps.

A couple of commercial resorts rent housekeeping cabins on the lake’s west bank and offer a variety of services to their guests. These are open year round as the area is very popular among winter sports fans for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Private cottage rentals are possible lodgings choices along the shore and often include a small boat with the cottage.

Two Whiteshell Provincial Park campgrounds located at the lake fill quickly during warm summer months. Both have sandy beach areas, boat launching facilities, fish cleaning stations, picnic grounds, playgrounds and campsites with electricity. Water and restrooms are located within the campgrounds. Commercial resorts also have launch sites for personal boats. Big Whiteshell Lake is large enough for water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding and other water sports.

Fishing is the biggest draw to Big Whiteshell Lake for walleye, northern pike, perch and the occasional whitefish. Although the walleye are stocked regularly, the fish also reproduce naturally. Careful fish monitoring leads to fishing regulations that may be changed annually, so current fishing regulations should be consulted and can be obtained with the annual fishing permits. Ice fishing is also popular, but the large lake may be hard to fish without local advice. The little settlement of Big Whiteshell Lake on the western side has a gas station and bait available, along with the latest local fishing information. The resort proprietors can also be helpful with the latest hot fishing spots and baits.

Wildlife are plentiful in the surrounding area: black bear, white-tailed deer, moose, lynx, wolves, otter, fisher, raccoon, red fox, beaver, porcupine, muskrat and squirrel are relatively common and may be seen along the trails, particularly in the wilderness zone. Canada geese, owls, loons, bald eagles, osprey, ruffed grouse, ducks and a variety of songbirds can be found among the pines and at the lake’s edges. Several hiking trails such as Big Whiteshell Hiking Trail, Jumping Rock Trail, Castle Rock Trail and Mantario Trail are popular hiking destinations. The new 6-mile Big Whiteshell Mountain Bike Trail is a favorite among mountain bikers.

Located 100 miles east of Winnipeg in the far southeastern portion of Manitoba, the park that gives Big Whiteshell Lake its name abuts the Ontario border. The nearly 675,000-acre park covers the western edge of the Canadian Shield geology formation before it becomes prairie. The name itself is interesting in that the white shells that give the park its name are not native to the area. Called miigis shells, the shells are a type of cowry which play a part in ceremonies of the Midewiwin or Grand Medicine Society of the native tribes from the east coast through the Great Lakes. The shells were apparently obtained by trade and highly valued for ceremonial use in the area. Archaeological evidence shows that aboriginal tribes have lived in the area for at least 8,000 years, leaving a petrographic reminder of their passage in the many petroforms found throughout the region. Not all of these formations representing snakes, turtles and birds have been mapped and visitors are reminded to leave them undisturbed. Some are still used for traditional ceremonies.

Many other lakes in the area also offer campgrounds and cottage rentals. A few are full-fledged resorts, but far more common are housekeeping cabins and private rentals. Several points of interest within Whiteshell Provincial Park offer historic and natural exhibits and information. Bannock Point nearby is a well-known site containing many petroforms. Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary serves as a nesting location each spring. Interpretive displays, a self-guided trail and observation gallery assist in enjoying these large waterfowl. Whiteshell Natural History Museum has displays of local bird and mammal species, while the Museum of Geological History displays the geological formation of the lakes and features of the local landscape. The Whiteshell Trappers Museum displays the history of trapping in the area and explains the modern use of trapping in wildlife management.

After a fun-filled day of fishing, hiking and swimming in Big Whiteshell Lake, a great way to end the day is around a crackling campfire near the beach. And before you leave, make sure to reserve your spot for the following year. Right along with the walleye, you’ll be hooked.

Things to do at Big Whiteshell Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Big Whiteshell Lake

  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish

Big Whiteshell Lake Photo Gallery

    Big Whiteshell Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

    divider

    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 4,200 acres

    Shoreline Length: 20 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,015 feet

    Average Depth: 23 feet

    Maximum Depth: 27 feet

    Drainage Area: 31 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

    Spread the word! Share our Big Whiteshell Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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."


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.