Qu’Appelle Lakes, Saskatchewan, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Saskatchewan -

Also known as:  Fishing Lakes, Calling Lakes

Qu’Appelle? Yes, the name of a group of four popular Southern Saskatchewan lakes is a French question. Qu’Appelle Lakes, also known as the Fishing Lakes, lie in the Qu’Appelle Valley about 40 miles northeast of Regina. Qu’Appelle translates as, “Who calls?” This name gives rise to yet a third name for the shallow natural lakes – the Calling Lakes! Local legend tells several versions of the stories of First Nation travelers hearing their names called while paddling across the lakes. Their response, in the French tongue of the many French trappers in the area, was ‘Qu’Appelle?’ The lakes, and the valley in which they lie, carry the name. And the legend is likely responsible for the name of one of those four water bodies: Echo Lake. Lake Katepwa’s name likely originated from the Cree word “Kahtapwao” which means ‘What is calling?” Mission Lake gained its name from the Catholic Mission at what is now Lebret. The mission became a residential school for First Nation children. Pasqua Lake was named after Chief Joseph Pasqua who formed what became the Pasqua First Nation tribe. Today, much of the lands surrounding the Qu’Appelle Lakes belongs to several First Nations bands. They also control the Echo Lake Dam.

The string of four lakes was created by the same glaciers that created the valley itself. The Qu’Appelle River is little more than a slow-moving creek for much of the year. The lakes provided prime hunting, fishing and camp locations for several First Nations tribes, including the Metis, descendants of European trappers and their native wives. Like a scar cut deep across the gently rolling dry prairie, the Qu’Appelle Valley provided shelter from the winds and scarce water and fuel for both livestock and human needs. The valley, with its four connected lakes, served as the perfect location for early trappers and eventually the Hudson Bay Company outpost and store. Fort Qu’Appelle, as the store’s location came to be known, occupied a prime spot between Echo and Mission Lakes. Here, much of the early history of Saskatchewan was written – in treaties, trade and settlement.

The lakes are fed not only by the Qu’Appelle River but also by springs from underground aquifers and numerous coulees and streams that drain water from the surrounding prairie. The Qu’Appelle River eventually flows into the Assiniboine River which runs through Brandon, Manitoba and joins the Red River at The Forks in Winnipeg. Much of the water in the Qu’Appelle Lakes then is seasonal, with large variations in water levels from season to season. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority works to control the water levels to avoid flooding events, because the Fishing Lakes lack an effective outlet for excess water. Sometimes when there is a sudden large snowmelt, too much water drains into the lakes, causing them to flood. Amazing though it may seem, not all of the water comes from upstream; much percolates upward from overloaded aquifers.

Only 40 miles from Regina, the Qu’Appelle Lakes have become Saskatchewan’s ‘cottage country’ in the last century. Two water control structures, originally developed for irrigation purposes, raised the water levels to a more standard level. The development of the Qu’Appelle Dam upstream also has the effect of regularizing the river’s flow. Although much of the shoreline is First Nation Reserve lands, two public parks have been created to provide access to the growing numbers of visitors and tourists: Katepwa Point Provincial Park is a favorite summer spot for cottagers, campers and day visitors, as is Echo Valley Provincial Park on Pasqua Lake.

Between the two parks, visitors enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, waterskiing, picnicking, hiking, and horseback riding. In winter, the parks are available for ice-fishing, cross-country skiing and down-hill skiing. Although Katepwa Park is day use only, Echo Valley Park offers three separate camping areas, some with all amenities. A nature-lover’s favorite, over 225 species of birds are found in the valley. White-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and antelope are often sighted. Other portions of the shorelines are inhabited by youth camps and private homes and cottages. Fort Qu’Appelle is the largest town, but small resort settlements exist at Katepwa Beach, Katepwa South, Lebret, Fort Qu’Appelle, Fort San, and B-Say-Tah.

Fishing is popular. The fish hatchery at B-Say-Tah, begun in 1913, produces a wide range of native and exotic species, and distributes 40 to 50 million fish per year in over 200 bodies of water throughout Saskatchewan. Walleye, northern pike, perch, dog fish, white fish and bigmouth buffalo-a form of sucker- are prime targets for anglers. Although all four Qu’Appelle Lakes are long and narrow, their combined volume holds an impressive 445,999 acre-feet of water contained within 59 miles of shoreline.

Because the current is sluggish and the surrounding area heavily farmed, Qu’Appelle Lakes have suffered from an excess of nutrients in recent years leading to algae blooms. Swimming sometimes becomes difficult from the beaches in late summer. Several conservation groups are working together with local farmers to alleviate the problem and are seeing some success.

Although the Hudson Bay Company is long gone, Fort Qu’Appelle is the largest town along the Qu’Appelle Lakes. Hudson Bay Company lives on in memory at the Fort Qu’Appelle Museum, located on the site of the original trading post and fort. Fort Qu’Appelle attracts visitors year round, with a variety of restaurants, hotel and motel rooms, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, and a 42-site campground right in town. Fort Qu’Appelle offers a variety of shops, an active snowmobile community with nearly 220 miles of groomed trails, and a ski resort with nine runs just south of town. The town attracts ice fishermen in winter also. Nearby Lebret also has a museum detailing the history of the area, with exhibits of early pioneer tools and household items. Between these towns and the resort communities, visitors will find all of the necessary groceries, gas and other amenities needed to ensure their stay is a comfortable one. Private vacation rentals are often found along the shores of the Qu’Appelle Lakes, and real estate is available for sale in the immediate area. A more perfect spot for a Saskatchewan vacation can’t be found at any time of the year. Plan your visit to the historic Qu’Appelle Lakes today!

Pasqua Lake: 4,999 acres, average depth: 19 feet, maximum depth: 51 feet, volume: 97,999 acre-feet, shoreline: 24 miles

Echo Lake: 3,101 acres, average depth: 32 feet, maximum depth: 72 feet, volume: 98,996 acre- feet, shoreline: 10 miles

Mission Lake: 1,900 acres, average depth: 27 feet, maximum depth: 56 feet, volume: 51,002 acre-feet, shoreline: 9 miles

Katepwa Lake: 4,075 acres, average depth: 47 feet, maximum depth: 76 feet, volume: 198,002 acre-feet, shoreline: 16 miles

Things to do at Qu’Appelle Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Qu’Appelle Lakes

  • Bigmouth Buffalo
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sucker
  • Walleye

Qu’Appelle Lakes Photo Gallery

Qu’Appelle Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Saskatchewan Watershed Management

Surface Area: 14,075 acres

Shoreline Length: 59 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,571 feet

Water Volume: 445,999 acre-feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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