The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan


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Quill Lakes

(51°55’N, 104°22’W (Big Quill Lake) Map sheet 72 P/16). Three lakes constitute Quill Lakes: Big, Little and Middle Quill (or Mud Lake). Elevated at 152 m, Big and Little Quill average 500 sq. km. Located north of Wynyard, they are in an internal drainage basin fed by numerous small streams. Big Quill’s mean depth is only 1.5 m. Its extent varies with inflow and evaporation rates. The waters are saline, especially during times of drought. Mineral precipitates include sodium-magnesium sulphates and potassium sulphates. The lakes and surroundings wetlands are a stopover and breeding ground for migrating birds, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds. Designated as a Ramsar site (after the Ramsar Convention in Iran, aiming to protect wetlands of international importance) in 1987, this was the first Canadian implementation site for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Measures to protect wildlife include designation of the islands in Middle Quill Lake as a provincial wildlife refuge to preserve colonies of American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythorhynchos), and the 1998 designation as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Big Quill has Saskatchewan’s largest breeding population of piping plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus). The lakes were named for the bird quills collected and shipped to England for use as writing pens.

Marilyn Lewry

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