Here in Canada, we have a lot to be thankful for – and a lot of it has to do with water.
We have access to some of the most abundant freshwater sources on the planet. Our network of lakes, streams, and rivers provides us with the water we drink every day, a place to relax, swim, fish, and paddle, and a scenic backdrop for much of our landscape. As Canadians, we are also some of the highest water users per capita in the world. This Canada Day, let’s recognize the importance of our more precious resource.
Here are five facts about Canada’s freshwater.
- Canada has more lake area than any country in the world, and much of this lies within the Great Lakes network. The combined shoreline of the Great Lakes is nearly 50 per cent of the earth’s circumference, and this network of lakes is the largest system of freshwater on earth. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 8.5 million Canadians. Lake Ontario is so large that it supplies drinking water to nearly 30 per cent of Canada’s population.
- There is more water underground Canada than on our country’s surface. More than 8 per cent of Canada is covered in lakes, and our rivers discharge 7 per cent of the world’s renewable water supply – but this is still less than what lies beneath our country. Groundwater provides drinking water to about a quarter of Canada’s population, and is essential for farming and manufacturing.
- The majority of lakes on the Canadian Shield were created by glacial erosion, including the Great Lakes. Glacial lakes form when glaciers recede, carving a hole in the surface. Glacial melt causes the hole to become filled. Glacier ice can measure over 100,000 years old at the base.
- Wetlands cover more than 1.2 million square kilometres in Canada, and our wetlands make up about 25 per cent of the global area. Canada is the largest wetland area in the world, and are essential for the health of our ecosystem and the water we drink. Wetlands retain water, prevent flooding, filter and purify water, and replenish and store groundwater. In the past, wetlands were considered wasteland, and much of the wetland area in southern Canada was drained or filled for farming and building operations.
- Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park is the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world. Maligne Lake is one of the most photographed locations in the world, drawing fame and attention for its colour, surrounding peaks, visible glaciers, and Spirit Island, a tiny island that sits in the lake.
Water. (2015). Environment Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/.
Fact Sheet: The world and water. (2007). RBC. Retrieved from: http://www.rbc.com/community-sustainability/_assets-custom/pdf/Fact-Sheet-The-World-and-Water-EN.pdf.