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Wollaston Lake

Wollaston Lake (community and lake), 2003.
Doug Chisholm

(58°15’N, 103°15’W; Map sheet 64 L/3). Wollaston Lake is located in northeastern Saskatchewan, approximately 550 km north of Prince Albert. Elevated at 398 m, covering 2,681 sq. km, and in places more than 50 m deep, Wollaston straddles the watershed between the Churchill and Athabasca Drainage Basins, with outflow to the Arctic through both the Mackenzie River and Hudson Bay. This unusual drainage pattern was described by David Thompson in 1796 as “perhaps without parallel in the world.”

Samuel Hearne learned of the lake in 1770 from guides who described a route through Wollaston to the Mackenzie River. Although well known to fur traders by the mid-1800s, difficult portages limited its use to small parties. Wollaston has been known by several names. Hearne’s guides named it Manito Lake (meaning supernatural or mysterious lake). In 1883 Émile Petitot mapped it as Great Hatchet Lake or Wollaston Lake, the latter name given by Peter Fidler in 1807 to honour George Hyde Wollaston, a member of the governor's committee of the Hudson's Bay Company at the time.

The western shore of Wollaston Lake is accessible via Highway 905. There is scheduled air service to the village of Wollaston Lake and to Points North Landing, a service centre for nearby Uranium mines. Although this industry provides jobs for northerners, it has also raised concerns over possible contamination of Wollaston Lake. This is significant as the lake not only provides domestic water for the local inhabitants, but also supports a commercial and recreational fishery.

Marilyn Lewry

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Further Reading

Sebert, L.M. 2004. “Mysterious Wollaston Lake (Northern Saskatchewan),” Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives 119: 15–18.
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