With Lake Ontario cruises, you'll find yourself right in the middle of Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. The lake's primary inflow is the Niagara River while its primary outflow is the St. Lawrence Seaway. The lake has a total surface area of 7,340 square mi and water volume of 393 cu mi; its water residence time is 6 years. For cruisers, this means that this is an ideal lake to sail if you're looking for tranquil waters with lots of area to explore.
Lake Ontario is the last Great Lakes of the chain before the St. Lawrence Seaway and its river mouth that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Ontario is the 13th largest lake in the world, and it was carved by the Wisconsin ice sheet back in the 2nd ice age. “Ontario” means “Great Lake” in Huron Language, and besides its evident historic roots, this region has been a key to the Great Lakes area development. Lake Ontario is home to multiple majestic ports of call for Great Lakes cruises.
Discover Lake Ontario's History
The Wisconsin ice sheet carved what used to be the Ontarian River and turned it into a valley, which later converted into Lake Iroquois. When the ice finally retreated from the St. Lawrence Valley, Lake Iroquois turned into a bay, and subsequently into Lake Ontario. The gradual land rebound causes inundation in the south shore of the lake and several river valleys have turned into bays. Property owners in the area are aware of the danger this phenomenon is continuously causing, and have even lost some value over their land.
In the pre-columbian era, the river served as a border between the Huron and Iroquois natives. Later in the 1600s, the Iroquois invaded the Huron and settled in the northern shores of the Lake. The Iroquois left, and later the Anishnabeg, Ojibwa, and Mississaugas moved in and retained the Iroquois name.
In 1615, the first European reached Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario changed names several times, as it was a usual practice by the European settlers; Lac de St. Louis and Lac Frontenac were a couple of relevant names during that time. Later on, the French and British established multiple trading forts. It wasn’t until 1794 that the U.S. took control of these ports after the signing of the Jay Treaty. The lake then became a hub for commercial activity due to its prime location; right between U.S. and Canada, and close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Lake Ontario's Economy
Lake Ontario is a significant part of the 6-trillion-GDP Great Lakes Area Economy, a powerhouse on an international scale. The Ontario basin is home to ¼ of Canada’s population, and its primary economic activities include manufacturing, trading, fishing, and tourism. Its agricultural and industrial development has been significant, but it is causing a significant loss to the ecosystems in the region.
Lake Ontario's Ecosystems
The Lake Ontario region is home to multiple lagoons, harbors, and sand bars. This generates an important mix of conditions that results perfectly for the multiple species of flora and fauna that inhabit the region. The sandbars in the area create wetlands, which are an important base for migratory birds. There’s also a significant growth of deciduous forests, home to Oak, Maple, and Basswood trees. Other Lake Ontario native species include the Lake Trout and Walleye. These species are all endangered by invasive species such as Cattails, Lamprey, and Zebra Mussels. Not to mention, agriculture is causing a continuous deforestation in the area. This affects native species as well and has resulted in the loss of native birds and the extinction of Native Salmon. Like the rest of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario struggles with overfishing, agricultural fertilizers, pollution, untreated sewage, and more ecology issues. These all affect the ecosystem chains in the region. The U.S. and Canada governments are aware of this growing issue. Therefore, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was created, and it takes part in protecting the biological integrity of this vital source.
Best Attractions on Lake Ontario Cruises
Bays and Beaches
Parks and Nature