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Lake Ontario, USA, Canada

April 11th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Lake Ontario (French: lac Ontario), bounded on the north by Ontario and on the south by Ontario's Niagara Peninsula and by New York State, is one of the five Great Lakes of North America.

The name of the lake is derived from Skanadario, an Iroquois word meaning either "beautiful lake" or "sparkling water". The Canadian province of Ontario was later named after the lake.

Lake Ontario (43°30'N, 78°00'W) is the eastern-most and smallest in surface area (7,340 sq. mi., 18,960 km²) of the Great Lakes, although it exceeds Lake Erie in volume (393 cu. mi., 1639 km³). It is the 14th largest lake in the world and has a shoreline 712 mi. (1146 km) long.

Lake Ontario has an elevation of 243 ft (74 m) above sea level. Its length is 193 mi (311 km), and its breadth is 53 mi (85 km). The average depth is 283 ft (86 m), with a maximum depth of 802 ft (244 m).

Its primary inlet is the Niagara River (from Lake Erie) and primary outlet is the St. Lawrence River. Other major rivers which flow into it include the Humber River; Trent River; the Cataraqui River; the Genesee River; the Oswego River; the Black River; and the Salmon River. Other notable geographic features include Hamilton Harbour, the Bay of Quinte, the Toronto Islands, and the Thousand Islands. The Bay of Quinte seperates most of Prince Edward County from the north shore except for a 3km stretch of land connecting it to the mainland. The largest island on the lake is Wolfe Island located near Kingston at St. Lawrence River entrance. It is accessed by summer ferrys from both Canada and the U.S.

A portion of the Great Lakes Waterway passes through the lake, which is accessible from upstream by the Welland Canal and from downstream by the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Trent-Severn Waterway for pleasure boats connects Lake Ontario at the Bay of Quinte to Georgian Bay of Lake Huron passing through the inland Lake Simcoe. The Rideau Waterway, also for pleasure boats, connects Lake Ontario at Kingston to the Ottawa River at Ottawa.

A large conurbation called the Golden Horseshoe (including major cities of Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario) is on the Canadian side at the western end of the lake. Close to 9 million people or over a quarter of Canada's population lives within the watershed of Lake Ontario.

The American shore of the lake is largely rural, with the exception of Rochester, New York. The city of Syracuse is not actually located on the lakeshore but 30 km (20 miles) inland and is connected to it by canal. Approximately 2 million people live in Lake Ontario's American watershed.

A high-speed passenger/vehicle ferry service across Lake Ontario between Toronto and Rochester was launched on June 17, 2004, using the vessel Spirit of Ontario I. The service was officially canceled in January 2006 after losing money for two seasons.

On the south shore, breezes off the cool lake tend to retard fruit bloom until the spring frost danger is past, and the area has become a major fruit growing area, with apples, cherries, pears, plums, and peaches grown in many commercial orchards on both sides of Rochester. The Canadian part of the south shore, known as the Niagara Peninsula is also a major fruit-growing and wine-making area. Apples are grown on the lake's north shore, around Cobourg.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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