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Located 236 miles northwest of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, Lesser Slave Lake's more than 280,000 surface acres present a wonderful scenic recreational jewel for the Province. The lake is one of a few accessible by auto, surrounded by forests. (Canada's Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories spans 6,721,280 acres.)
The town of Slave Lake sits on the eastern edge. Lesser Slave Lake is entirely within Alberta and is the second largest lake contained wholly within the Province. Other small villages and hamlets on or near Lesser Slave Lake include Kinuso, Grouard, Joussard, Faust and Canyon Creek.
Recreational activities are diverse including fishing (both summer and winter through the ice), boating, watersports, sailing, hiking, golf, biking, and wildlife viewing. Two provincial parks on the shore add to the wonderful recreation potential. There are at least five native Indian reserves dotting Lesser Slave Lake's shores; the Cree initially named the lake 'Slave Lake', later to be known by its current name.
Lesser Slave Lake is a natural lake over 60 miles long and a little over 9 miles wide. Inflows to the lake include the Heart, Marten, Swan, Driftpile, and Assineau Rivers. Lesser Slave Lake level is controlled naturally and its major drainage is the Lesser Slave River, thence into the Athabasca River. In 1983, the Provincial Government established the Lesser Slave Lake Regulation Project to help manage earlier flooding of the surrounding area. Eight river channel cutoffs were built below Lesser Slave Lake to move high water more quickly, and a weir downstream of the first cutoff slows outlet water in dry years. Fluctuation of the lake water level has been reduced from over 11 feet to less than nine feet.
Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park on the east side of the lake provides easily accessible fishing, boat ramps, camping, picnicking, hiking and wildlife viewing. A world famous bird observatory (Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory) is in the park emphasizing the 'birding' drawing card. Over two hundred species have been observed including many hawks, falcons, owls, woodpeckers, and warblers. Shore birds seen around the lake include loons, pelicans, cormorants, herons, swans and geese. Hilliard's Bay Provincial Park, on Lesser Slave Lake's northwest shore, is another wonderful addition to the lake. Camping facilities are excellent; between the Provincial Parks, municipal parks and private parks, there are hundreds of sites to be enjoyed. Boat launching, fine white sand beaches, playgrounds and service establishments complement the camping areas. Canoeing and kayaking are favorite summer water sports along with sailing, wind surfing, water skiing and swimming. Besides ice fishing, winter encourages great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There are over 10 geocaches located around Lesser Slave Lake - all provide an interesting diversion for a visitor.
Fishing is excellent, both in summer and winter. Lesser Slave Lake is home to northern pike, walleye, artic grayling, whitefish, yellow perch, cisco and jackfish. To emphasize the excellent fishing, there are a number of heavily attended walleye tournaments held each year.
In May of 2011 wildfires destroyed about one-third of the town of Slave Lake. In July of that year, Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the town to support the rebuilding efforts. Government funding and benefit concerts provided rebuilding funds.
For anyone planning a trip to Alberta, Lesser Slave Lake is a 'must' destination for wonderful outdoor enjoyment.
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