Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Shawnigan Lake is a 1,327-acre lake located on southern Vancouver Island, 3 miles west of Mill Bay and 28 miles north of Victoria. Known as a summer recreation and cottage area for over a century, the lake is becoming a favorite weekend getaway spot and one of Victoria’s more popular communities. Shoreline marshes, an island park, and a number of lakeside cabins make the lake an excellent destination for swimming, fishing, and boating.

Shawnigan Lake provides a number of recreational opportunities including swimming, water skiing, boating, and fishing. Although the majority of the residences are occupied year round, there are number of campgrounds, resorts and vacation rentals that receive heavy use during the summer months. One of the main attractions of the lake is fishing. Shawnigan Lake has been stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout since 1903 and there is also a large native population of kokanee salmon. Smallmouth bass and yellow perch have also been introduced to the lake. The lake has an average depth of 39 feet, but there are spots that reach up to 170 feet. The water level of the lake is controlled by a dam on Shawnigan Creek.

Kayakers and canoeists will love Shawnigan Lake for its calm, clear water and picturesque shoreline dotted with modern residences and rustic old cabins. Memory Island Provincial Park, located on the southern half of the lake is just over a half mile paddle from shore. This day-use, tranquil little park is a great place to picnic, relax, and bird-watch.

Hikers will want to head to nearby Koksilah Provincial Park. Just over 4 miles from Shawnigan Lake this park features excellent hiking, mountain biking, fishing and swimming. There are numerous trails throughout the forest offering some great wildlife viewing opportunities. You can also explore West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park on the western shore best known for its public beach, swimming and family picnicking. The surrounding area of the lake also offers great cycling and mountain biking terrain.

Directly east of Shawnigan Lake and just south of the Mill Bay ferry terminal is Bamberton Provincial Park. This scenic park features a large beach and an abundance of picnic facilities. Primitive camping and RV campsites can be found in this park. Old Mill Park on the east side of Shawnigan Lake was the mill site of the Shawnigan Lake Lumber Co. from 1881 to 1945. This park features a beach, swimming, picnic area, and a playground.

The Trans-Canada Trail Regional Park follows the abandoned Canadian National Railway from Sooke Lake Road, at the south end of Shawnigan Lake, to the Holt Creek trestle in the Glenora area. The trail will eventually connect with the Galloping Goose Trail and create a continuous national trail system of approximately 10,800 miles. The Trans Canada Trail follows the western side of Shawnigan Lake. Make sure you take the time to visit the Kinsol Trestle, a large wooden railway trestle that can be explored by starting in the village of Shawnigan Lake. To find the trestle, you will need to hike the Trans-Canada Trail.

If you get tired of the lake, Shawnigan Lake Village is well known for its arts and craft shows, and has a small but excellent museum. Golfers will find several golf courses in the area to choose from. The nearby town of Cobble Hill features various vineyards and wine tours throughout the year.

Winter is also a busy time at Shawnigan Lake with plenty of opportunities for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.

Peaceful Shawnigan Lake is an excellent vacation spot for water activities as well as outdoor recreation. Hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts will find much to do with an abundance of parks and a variety of trails to choose from.

Things to do at Shawnigan Lake

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

Fish species found at Shawnigan Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Shawnigan Lake Photo Gallery

Shawnigan Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 1,327 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 380 feet

Average Depth: 39 feet

Maximum Depth: 170 feet

Water Residence Time: 1 year

Lake Area-Population: 14,040

Drainage Area: 27 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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