Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Lake Erie


Erie, lake, the most southerly of the five Great lakes, which constitute the upper portion of the St. Lawrence waterway. It receives, through the Detroit river, the waters of lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, And St. Clair; and it empties, by way of the Niagara river, into lake Ontario. It is 241 miles long, from east to west; it has a maximum width of 57 miles, and an area of 9,940 square miles. It is by far the shallowest of the Great lakes, having a maximum depth of only 210 feet; and it is consequently peculiarly liable to a dangerous ground-swell in storms. Its shallower parts freeze easily; and it is therefore not navigable during the winter season. The lake is named from the Erie Indians, who once inhabited its shores. It was probably first seen by Etienne Brulé, when he visited the Andastes south of the lake in 1615; and it was possibly seen by the Récollet Father de la Roche d'Aillon, when he visited the Neutral nation in 1626. But the first clear reference to it under its present name is in the Jesuit Relation of 1641, which describes its discovery by Fathers Chaumonot and Lalement; and it is first clearly shown on the Sanson map, published in Paris in 1650. It became in the eighteenth century an important route of the fur-trade, both from Montreal and from Albany ; and the control of the lake was an important consideration during the War of 1812. After the war the boundary line between Canada and the United States was drawn through the middle of the lake, so that slightly more than 5,000 square miles of it now belong to Canada. There are few rivers of commercial importance that empty into it; but it is connected by canals with the Hudson and Ohio rivers, and the Welland canal connects it with lake Ontario.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 296.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College