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definition - Lake_Saint_Clair_(North_America)

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Lake Saint Clair (North America)

Lake St. Clair
Landsat satellite photo, showing Lake Saint Clair (center), as well as St. Clair River connecting it with Lake Huron and the Detroit River connecting it to Lake Erie
Location (Great Lakes)
Coordinates 42°28′N 82°40′W / 42.467°N 82.667°W / 42.467; -82.667Coordinates: 42°28′N 82°40′W / 42.467°N 82.667°W / 42.467; -82.667
Lake type Freshwater Lake
Primary inflows St. Clair River, Thames River, Sydenham River, Clinton River
Primary outflows Detroit River
Basin countries Canada, United States
Max. length 26 mi (42 km)[1]
Max. width 24 mi (39 km)[1]
Surface area 430 sq mi (1,114 km2)[1][2]
Average depth 11 ft (3.4 m)[1]
Max. depth 27 ft (8.2 m)
Water volume 0.82 cu mi (3.4 km3)[1]
Residence time 7 days (2-30 days)
Shore length1 169 mi (272 km)[2]
Surface elevation 574 ft (175 m)
Islands Gull Island
Settlements Detroit
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake St. Clair (French: Lac Sainte-Claire) is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline. This lake is situated about 6.0 miles (9.7 km) northeast of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. With about 430 square miles (1,100 km2) of water area, this lake is part of the Great Lakes System. It links the Great Lakes system, but is rarely included in the listings of the Great Lakes.[1][2] There are ongoing proposals for its official recognition as a Great Lake, which would affect its inclusion in scientific research projects, etc., designated as being for "The Great Lakes".[3][4] Along with the St. Clair River and Detroit River, Lake St. Clair connects Lake Huron (to its north) with Lake Erie (to its south).

Lake Saint Clair is about 26 miles (42 km) from north to south and about 24 miles (39 km) from east to west. This is a rather shallow lake for its size with an average depth of about 11 feet (3.4 m), and a maximum natural depth of 21.3 feet (6.5 m). However, it is 27 feet (8.2 m) deep in the navigation channel which has been dredged for lake freighter passage.[1] Lake Saint Clair is fed with fresh water flowing out of Lake Huron to its north via the St. Clair River, which has an extensive river delta, the largest one within the Great Lakes System.[1] Also, the Thames River and Sydenham River flow into Lake Saint Clair from Southwestern Ontario, and the Clinton River flows into it from Michigan. The outflow from Lake Saint Clair flows from its southwestern end into the Detroit River, and thence into Lake Erie.

The tarry time (i.e. the time between entering and leaving) of the water in Lake St. Clair averages about seven days, but this can vary from as little as two to as many as thirty days, depending on the direction of the winds, the water circulation patterns, and the seasonal amount of water that is flowing out of Lake Huron. If the water flows through the navigation channel, which is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the time the water remains in the lake is about two days.[1]



  The beach on Lake St. Clair in the Metro Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores.
  Sign along Black Creek welcoming boaters

First Nations/Native Americans used the lake as part of their extensive navigation of the Great Lakes. The Mississaugas called present-day Lake St. Clair Wahwehyahtahnoong. They established a village near the lake in the latter part of the 17th century. Early French mapmakers had identified the lake by a variety of French and Iroquois names, including Lac des Eaux de Mer [Seawater Lake]; Ganatchio (kettle, for its shape), in French Lac de la Chaudière. A variety of Native names were associated with sweetness, as the lake was freshwater as opposed to saltwater. These included Otsiketa (sugar or candy), Kandequio or Kandekio (possibly candy), Oiatinatchiketo (probably a form of Otsiketa), and Oiatinonchikebo. Similarly, the Iroquois called present-day Lake Huron, "The Grand Lake of the Sweet Sea" (fresh water as opposed to salt water.) This association was conveyed on French maps as Mer Douce (sweet sea) and Dutch maps as the Latin Mare Dulce.[5]

On August 12, 1679, the French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle arrived with an expedition. He named the body of water Lac Sainte-Claire as the expedition discovered it on the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi. The historian on the voyage, Louis Hennepin, recorded that the Iroquois called the lake Otseketa.[6]

As early as 1710, the English identified the lake on their maps as Saint Clare. By the Mitchell Map in 1755, the spelling appeared as St. Clair, the form that became most widely used.[7] Some scholars credit the name as honoring the American Revolutionary War General Arthur St. Clair, later Governor of the Northwest Territory, but the name Lake St. Clair was in use with the current spelling long before St. Clair became a notable figure. Together the place name and general's name likely influenced settlers' naming a proliferation of nearby political jurisdictions: the Michigan county and township of St. Clair, as well as the cities of St. Clair and St. Clair Shores.

The origin of the name has also been confused with one Patrick Sinclair, a British officer who purchased land on the St. Clair River at the outlet of the Pine River. There, in 1764, he built Fort Sinclair, which was in use for nearly twenty years before being abandoned.[8]

Unlike most smaller lakes in the region – but like the Great Lakes – Lake comes at the front of its proper name, rather than the end; this is reflective of its French origins.


  Lake St. Clair and the Great Lakes
  Northern Lake St. Clair frozen near Chesterfield Twp., Michigan
  Lac Sainte Claire historical marker, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan

The southwestern portion of the lake shore is lined by wealthy suburbs such as the Grosse Pointe communities of Michigan and Tecumseh and Lakeshore, Ontario. In these area, public access to the lake is restricted to private marinas and residents-only parks. Further north, in Harrison Township, lies Metro Beach Metropark, a popular public beach.

Yacht clubs located along the shore include:

  Fishermen on Lake Saint Clair as the sun sets.

Many of North America's fresh water fish species can be found in the lake throughout the seasons. Species popular with anglers include bass, bluegill, bullhead, catfish, muskellunge, Northern Pike, perch, salmon, smelt, steelhead, sturgeon, trout, and walleye. Several invasive species also inhabit the lake, including zebra mussels and round gobies.

  See also



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