Lac des Chats, Ontario & Quebec, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario - Quebec -

Also known as:  Chats Lake

Lac des Chats is more than a ‘wide spot’ on the Ottawa River. Champlain and other explorers remarked on the abundance of catfish along the waterway, so the lake became known as Lac des Chats, or Lake of the Cats. The lake was located above Chats Falls, and for many years the falls drew visitors to view their spectacular cascade down approximately 35 feet to the lower river.

Only about 40 miles by road from the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Town of Arnprior used to have regular excursion boats taking tourists to see the falls and cruise the lake. The building of a dam for hydroelectric generation at the falls in 1932 ended the cruises. This was a time of growth in the Ottawa River Valley, so electric power was necessary for business growth. The river was dammed in several places, including Chats Falls. Although the river is no longer navigable all of the way by boat, boat transfer arrangements still allow boaters to access Lac des Chats from downriver areas. And the Ottawa River remains a favored boating waterway.

Lac des Chats is defined as the area between the Chats Falls Dam on the east end and Chenaux Dam at Portage-du-Fort on the west. This 38-mile stretch forms a boating, fishing and residential lake that delights residents and visitors year round. The border between Ontario and Quebec bisects the length of the lake, and homes and cottages dot the shorelines. Although some areas are up to 157 feet deep, the lake averages only 16 feet deep. Small islands, sandbars and rocky shoals dot portions of both shorelines. The last few miles on the west end are difficult to navigate due to multiple small islands, so most boaters stick to cruising the main lake itself.

Although sailing is a favored activity here, power boating is more popular than on much of the Ottawa River. The Town of Arnprior on the Ontario side extends on both sides of the Madawaska River mouth. Arnprior maintains a municipal marina and boat ramps to provide access for visiting boaters. The Chats Lake Community Boat Club, although a membership organization, often extends launch courtesy to members of other yacht clubs, so getting on the water is seldom a problem.

Although not one of the well-known tourism destinations, Lac des Chats is the preferred location for fishermen seeking the famed channel catfish. Other prey of anglers include northern pike, muskellunge, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. There are muskie spawning areas along the north shoreline, and several trophy-size muskies have been caught near Arnprior. A few sturgeon and American eels can still be found here, but are on the decline due to the dams cutting off their free access downstream. Efforts are underway to increase their numbers with limited success. Canoeing and kayaking are popular around the perimeter of the lake and on the Madawaska River.

The western boundary of large Gatineau Park comes within ten miles of Lac des Chats and offers camping in both winter and summer, hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A number of walking and hiking trails cross the area on both sides of the lake, and the lakeside roads are often busy with cyclists. As the largest population center on the lake, Arnprior makes every effort to provide amenities and opportunities to visitors to enjoy their stay. Some of the regular events include the Valley Festival Concert Series, Sunday Concerts in the Park, a winter carnival, Arnprior White Pine Festival, and the Arnprior Fair. Arnprior invites visitors to enjoy their beach and city parks and offers plentiful lodgings at their many hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts.

Lac des Chats’ proximity to the twin cities of Ottawa and Gatineau makes this lake a favorite bedroom community for those doing business with branches of the Canadian government. Some homes on the lake are offered for summer or longer-term rental, and securing a property along the shoreline for the summer is possible. Several campgrounds and RV parks in the area welcome visitors along the Madawaska River and near Lac des Chats, although not on the lake itself. Lac des Chats, or Chats Lake as it is often called, offers the best of city amenities and lakeside enjoyment. For those looking to put down roots, there is usually some real estate available, even along the shoreline itself. More modest cottages often offer lake access. There are golf courses, city services, museums and entertainment opportunities available locally.

In keeping with many large, deep lakes, Lac des Chats has a folklore history of a ‘lake monster’. Stories from the late 1880s relate tales of an unknown lake creature over ten feet long terrorizing boats on the lake. According to some books, a ‘monster of enormous size and proportion’ attacked the vessel Levi Young in 1882, but a crew member beat it dead with an oar. On shore, the ‘monster’ was found to be an eleven-foot king snake. So, although visitors won’t spot a lake monster, Lac des Chts offers large number of channel catfish and a pleasant and friendly community where lakeside enjoyment is a way of life. If you have occasion to travel toward Ottawa, plan on spending some time on Chats Lake. Bring the fishing tackle and the swim wear.

Things to do at Lac des Chats

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • City Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lac des Chats

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Eel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon

Lac des Chats Photo Gallery

Lac des Chats Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Ontario Power Generation

Surface Area: 18,565 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 233 feet

Average Depth: 16 feet

Maximum Depth: 157 feet

Completion Year: 1932

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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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