The Great Lakes are Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. All but Lake Michigan can be seen from Ontario. The Great Lakes are the largest collection of freshwater lakes in the world. They are quite young lakes having only begun to have formed at the end of the Last Glacial Period around 14,000 years ago.
These are massive lakes and it is impossible to list out a complete itinerary. Instead, we will list attractions on each lake in Ontario to visit. While in Ontario, see most of Toronto with an essential weekend itinerary.
About The Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are massive, but surprisingly they do not actually have the greatest water volume in the world - that is Lake Baikal in Russia that is famously deep (and even has the only freshwater seal species in the world).
- Great Lakes: 21% Of The World's Surface Fresh Water Is In The Great Lakes
- Lake Baikal: 22-23% Of The World's Fresh Water
- Fun Fact: People Have Likely Inhabited The Americas for Longer Than The Great Lakes Have Existed
Lake Huron is home to the largest freshwater island in the world - Manitoulin Island. One of the fun ways to visit Lake Huron is to take the ferry from the mainland's peninsula jutting out into the lake at Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. The island is very peaceful and ideal for camping. Only around 10,000 people live on the island and is around an 8-hour journey from Toronto.
- Fun Fact: Technically There Are Four Lakes As Lakes Michigan And Huron Join At The Straits of Mackinac
- Distance: Toronto to Tobermory Approx. 4 Hours
The island is so large it has some significant lakes of its own including Lake Manitou, Lake Kagawong, and Lake Mindemoya. The island is also the site of the Sheshegwaning First Nation and many of the inhabitants are First Nations.
Lake Erie is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Five Great Lakes. As it is the shallowest lake it is also prone to freezing over in the winter.
- Deepest Point: 210 Feet or 64 Meters In Lake Erie
Lake Erie stretches from Detriot to Buffalo. Lake Erie is a favorite for divers and there are many shipwrecks within it. According to some estimates, there could be as many as 1,400 or 8,000 shipwrecks of which only around 270 are confirmed shipwreck locations. It is believed that there are more wrecks per square mile than any other freshwater location. It may have as many as a quarter of all the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes (and it is the smallest lake).
- Distance: Toronto To Port Rowan, Lake Erie Approx. 2 Hours
Due to the cold and salt-free water, the shipwrecks are well preserved - although the cold does make them more difficult to dive. Diving these shipwrecks is perhaps the most interesting way to discover Lake Erie. Guided dives can be organized with Scuba Erie.
Lake Ontario bears the same name as the province and the Canadian cities of Toronto, Kingston, and Hamilton are situated on it. One of the best places to see this lake is right from Downtown Toronto - if one takes a boat ride out onto it, then one can see the Toronto skyline from the backdrop of the lake.
- Meaning: In The Huron Language Ontari'io Means "Great Lake"
- Distance: Toronto To Lake Ontario - N/A (Is On the Waterfront)
Lake Ontario is fed by the Niagara River just downstream of Niagara Falls. This is another great place to visit the lake, a short drive from Niagara Falls is the town of St. Catherine that is situated right on the lake.
While Toronto is either on or within a 4-hour drive of the other three Great Lakes, Lake Superior is remote. It is a massive lake having around the same volume as the other four lakes combined (around 10% of the world's surface freshwater). From the United States, one of the best places to visit Lake Superior is on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
- Lake Superior: The Second Largest Lake In The World And Largest Freshwater Lake
Lake Superior is remote and lacks any major cities, the largest in Canada is Thunderbay. If one is visiting Lake Superior, then one should really enjoy the remoteness and tranquility of the lake with its wild setting.
- Distance: Toronto To Lake Superior Provincial Park Approx. 10 Hours
One of the best places to visit Lake Superior is in the Lake Superior Provincial Park. The only accommodation here in the Canadian wilderness is camping. Agawa Bay in the park has 152 campsites and has comfort stations. All the campsites are within walking distance of the lake and there are some campsites located beside the beach. The park's visitor center is also located here, more information is on the park's website.