Lake Megantic, Quebec, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Quebec -

Also known as:  Lac Megantic

Lake Megantic is little-known outside of eastern Quebec, but its recreational reputation is growing. The 6500-plus acre lake garnered little common awareness after its discovery in 1646 by Father Gabriel Druillettes, except for Benedict Arnold’s use of the lake and north-flowing Chaudiere River to attack Quebec City in 1775. Due to its inaccessibility on the northern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, the lake didn’t see much European settlement until the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway. CPR built the final section of its transcontinental railway along the lake’s eastern shore. Hundreds of thousands of new immigrants passed within sight of Lac Megantic on their way west into the Canadian plains and the United States by train. Source of the important Chaudiere River, the lake soon supported the small town of Lac Megantic at the river outlet. The local population centered around fishing, logging and granite-quarrying for many years until tourists discovered its ample charms.

Lake Megantic, locally known as Lac Megantic, has become one of the most popular places in eastern Quebec to enjoy water sports, camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and nature observation. The City of Lac Megantic is the largest town along the lake, but the villages of Marston, Frontenac and Piopolis also command sections of the nearly 30-mile shoreline. Several campgrounds and municipal and public beaches offer excellent swimming and access to the water. Long, narrow and deep, Lake Megantic is what is referred to as a ‘finger lake’, a body of water left in a valley after glaciers receded from the area. The lake averages about 2 miles in width, allowing Piopolis to become internationally-known as the site of open swimming competitions. In 2012, the Provincial Government of Quebec supported the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup-Lac-Megantic event here. Registration for the 2013 International Crossing of Lake Megantic, an annual event for professional open-water swimmers, is currently underway.

One need not be a world-class swimmer to enjoy the lovely beaches of Lake Megantic, however. A beautiful recreational facility near the City of Lac Megantic offers an excellent sand beach, over 300 campsites, an aerial treetop zip-line course, sailing school, boat launch, picnic and playground areas, and even Wi-Fi internet access in some areas. Room rentals and cabins are available here. The largest marina in eastern Quebec is located on the lake and has room for over 100 boats to berth. The City of Lac Megantic has developed a variety of amenities attractive to tourists and has become a favorite place for a winter sports vacation. A number of locations offer downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding excursions, snowmobile trails, and winter camping. Lac Megantic also sports an 18-hole golf course, large upscale mall, many inns, rental chalets, private guest rentals, hotel rooms, guest cottages and nightlife. An annual Winter Carnival gives the opportunity to enjoy such amusements as a golf tournament on the ice, ice soccer, torch-lit cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and general all-around fun for all ages. A summer family event enjoyed by many visitors is the 48-km Grand Tour of Lac Megantic, a cycling tour of the lake.

Many miles of hiking and nature trails circle the lake and nearby mountains. Several trails are designed for mountain bikes, including one that encourages bike camping and provides both tent platforms and rough cabins available by reservation. Some of the small bays are popular with fishermen who come seeking lake trout, splake, landlocked salmon, char, walleye, pike, muskellunge, bass and other common species of fish. Victory Bay, in the town of Marston, is known as one of the best areas for both summer fishing and ice fishing. Small boats can be rented here, and the village businesses are always eager to supply visitors with fishing advice. Some commercial fishing still occurs here. In fact, the name Megantic comes from an Abenaki word meaning either ‘place of the salmon trout’ or ‘where the fish gather’.

Megantic National Park surrounding nearby Mount Megantic attracts international visitors to its observatory featuring the most powerful telescopes in North America. The Discovery and Visitors Centre offers interpretive exhibits, a public observatory, and a nearby ASTROLab-an astronomy activity center. Mount Megantic is the first International Dark Sky Reserve, set in a unique landscape of granite outcroppings, ancient worn peaks, and unusual geological features. The Park is filled with hiking trails often used for snowshoeing. In winter a shuttle is available to take visitors to the top of Mount Megantic so they can snowshoe the three-and-a-half miles downhill with ease.

A natural lake, history records that Lake Megantic was first dammed at the outlet to the Chaudiere River in 1893, likely to facilitate log transportation. The dam served to stabilize water levels somewhat higher than they had been previously. A later dam in the 1920s provided hydroelectric power to the area. A dam still exists at the outlet but apparently no longer is used for power generation. It instead joins many other dams along the Chaudiere River in regulating water flow and acting as storage for the large hydroelectric plant near Quebec City. A network of valleys gather water from the surrounding mountainous forests, creating an important wetland at the south end of the lake and a natural stopping point for waterfowl and birds. Located less than five miles from the US border, much of the water thus drains from nearby Maine. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of human habitation that appears to be the earliest in Quebec at the lake’s southern end, proving the lake sheltered and fed human inhabitants well over 12,000 years ago.

Less than 120 miles from both Quebec City and the popular Trois-Revieres area on the St. Lawrence River, Lake Megantic is easy to reach via modern roads that make quick work of the mountainous terrain that formerly prevented access. These foothill lands are the perfect backdrop for a scenic vacation including both woods and water. A vacation here can include nearly any activity one desires, whether it involves adventure, learning, water sports or serene nature observance. Whatever your favorite activity, even if it means spending evenings around a quiet campfire, you can indulge it at Lake Megantic.

Things to do at Lake Megantic

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Megantic

  • Bass
  • Char
  • Lake Trout
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Splake Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Lake Megantic Photo Gallery

Lake Megantic Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 6,524 acres

Shoreline Length: 28 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,296 feet

Average Depth: 246 feet

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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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