Mazinaw Lake, Ontario, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario -

Also known as:  Upper Mazinaw Lake, Lower Mazinaw Lake

Amazing Mazinaw Lake holds court as the headwaters of Canada’s Mississippi River in eastern Ontario. This beautiful sprawling lake has alternately delighted and intimidated those who ventured onto its waters for hundreds of years. First Nations tribes spoke in hushed terms of Mishipashoo, legendary lake monster of this deep narrow lake, and offered tobacco as a blessing for safe crossing. Considered the second-deepest lake in southern Ontario, Mazinaw’s lake monster sightings appear to have died out in the last hundred years but not before being reported as factual by several European settlers to the area.

The fact that the First Nations tribes considered the lake sacred is reflected in the huge number of pictographs painted on the rock cliffs at ‘the narrows’, where the north and south basins separate and spectacular acoustics produce unusual echoes. These red ochre paintings are over a thousand years old and indirectly gave the lake its name: Mazinaw is derived from Mazinaabikinigan-zaaga’igan, meaning “painted-image lake” in Algonkian. The pictographs form the largest visible collection in Canada. Mazinaw Rock, the soaring cliff on the eastern shore rising 328 feet above the lake’s surface, has often been called Canada’s Gibraltar.

This awe-inspiring scenery, coupled with early 4000 acres of water reaching depths of 476 feet, make Mazinaw Lake a highly-desirable destination for visitors and seasonal residents. Over 300 cottages and homes, several resorts, a couple of marinas and a few campgrounds grace the lakefront. Those on most of the eastern shore can only be reached by water. Although heavily logged in the late 19th century, the land proved unsuitable for farming, and most has reverted to second-growth forest. The many arms, bays and inlets form a rugged, irregular shore where it is easy to lose oneself in solitude and communication with nature.

An all-sports lake, Mazinaw is friendly to waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, pontooning, power boating and paddle boats. A water control dam at the outlet at the south end of the lake keeps water depths controlled at ‘the narrows’ to make sure both basins are passable during late summer dry spells, but allows for a small winter draw-down. The rugged shoreline is ideal for exploring by kayak or canoe. Located east of Kawartha Lakes, west of the Rideau Lakes, and only two hours north of Belleville and Kingston, Mazinaw Lake is the ideal spot for summer vacations and winter ski weekends. With Ottawa only three hours to the northeast, Mazinaw Lake has become a very desirable location for those working in the nation’s capital.

Fishing is a big draw to Mazinaw Lake. The deep lake holds a healthy population of lake trout, increasingly rare as a fishery. The cold water fishery also supports walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, northern pike, perch, sunfish, lake whitefish, rock bass, lake herring, lake chub, pumpkinseed, white sucker and burbot. Appropriate licensing requirements and creel limits are in effect. The local marinas rent fishing boats and motors, sell gas, bait and tackle. In winter, ice fishing in the bays and coves is popular and usually productive. It isn’t unusual to see snowmobilers, cross-country skiers or snowshoers along the edges of the lake. Hunting is popular in season, particularly for large game such as moose, whitetail deer or black bear. Resorts in the area are often open year-round to accommodate ice fishermen and winter sports enthusiasts, so there is no true ‘off-season’ at Mazinaw Lake.

One of Canada’s favorite parks encompasses 16,415 acres along Mazinaw Lake’s shoreline. Located near ‘the narrows’, Bon Echo Provincial Park offers camping, both full-facility and back-country, miles of hiking trails, fishing, sandy swimming beaches, a visitors’ center, a boat launch, park store, canoe and kayak rentals, biking and a gift shop with art gallery. Pontoon cruise boats run regularly to ‘the Rock’ and other points of interest. Children’s and adults’ educational and interpretive programming is regularly scheduled. The non-profit Friends of Bon Echo Park sponsor the annual art exhibition and sale of original Canadian art. The lake and cliffs were a favorite scenic subject of Canada’s renowned ‘Group of Seven’ artists. The spectacular scenery still invites artists and photographers to visit the area regularly. Other events are produced by the ‘Friends’ to entertain and enlighten visitors to the history, ecology and natural environment of the Mazinaw Lake area. The park is home to some large old-growth cedars and is a nesting ground for the endangered peregrine falcon. It is not uncommon to see animals such as deer, moose, black bears, red fox and coyotes in the park.

A famous section of the granite cliff overlooking the lake holds a stanza of Walt Whitman’s famous “Song of Myself” chiseled in large letters. The park’s original owner, Flora MacDonald Denison, operated an inn here in the early 20th century that functioned as an artists’ colony; she was a devotee to Whitman’s works. She hired workmen to chisel the words into the rock face. This section of the rock is known as ‘Old Walt’ and was dedicated in honor of the poet in 1919. Rock climbers enjoy climbing the steep face of the cliff, but are forbidden to climb near either the pictographs or the inscription.

Visitors to Mazinaw Lake will find plenty of other activities and historical sites in the area to pique their interest. Nearby are horseback riding stables and trails, ATV trail rides, golf courses, tennis courts, and tours of natural limestone caves. Not far south of the lake the Cloyne Pioneer Museum and Archives is located near Cloyne and contains remnants of the buildings, tools and objects of everyday living used by the first settlers to the area. Downhill ski areas are within easy driving distance. Other small villages in the area offer supplies, local festivals and local color.

Mazinaw Country, as it is often called, has a little bit of everything, from quaint bed-and-breakfasts to small cafes and farm markets. Real estate is often found along the lakefront or on small water bodies nearby. As for lodgings, several property owners rent their private cottages or housekeeping cottages along the lake. Many of the resorts also have campgrounds. There is little in the way of modern chain hotels except in the larger cities along Lake Ontario. That is as it should be; this is ‘cottage country’ and the proper way to enjoy it is with a cottage at Mazinaw Lake.

Things to do at Mazinaw Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Provincial Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Mazinaw Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Burbot
  • Carp
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish

Mazinaw Lake Photo Gallery

Mazinaw Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority

Surface Area: 3,929 acres

Shoreline Length: 30 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 880 feet

Average Depth: 135 feet

Maximum Depth: 476 feet

Water Volume: 555,339 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 154 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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