Vast, remote, deep and cold, with sheer rock cliffs rising on the N shore, the lake's austere beauty has become part of the Canadian imagination. The tale of billions of years of GEOLOGICAL HISTORY is exposed in its rocks.
Superior, LakeSuperior, Lake, area 82 100 km2, of which 28 749 km2 lies in Canada; elev 183 m. It is 563 km long, 257 km wide and 406 m at its greatest depth. The lake is fed by some 200 rivers, including the Nipigon, St Louis, Pigeon, Pic, White, Michipicoten and Kaministikquia, and it discharges via the St Mary's R into Lk Huron. Being the most northwesterly of the GREAT LAKES, it was called Lac Supérieur by the French, a name that is appropriate in English as well - Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has 2 large islands: Isle Royale, which is a US national park, and Michipicoten in Canadian waters.
Vast, remote, deep and cold, with sheer rock cliffs rising on the N shore, the lake's austere beauty has become part of the Canadian imagination. The tale of billions of years of GEOLOGICAL HISTORY is exposed in its rocks. Stromatolites, the oldest fossils found anywhere, have been found in the rocks along Whitefish R - evidence of life 1.8 billion years ago. At AGAWA BAY, volcanic action has created one of the finest pebble beaches in the world. The rocks around Superior also contain valuable mineral deposits, especially IRON ORE in the great Mesabi Range in Minnesota. Silver was taken from beneath the lake at SILVER ISLET and copper was mined by the Indians long before the arrival of Europeans. Gold has been discovered at Hemlo, some 30 km E of Marathon.
Étienne BRÛLÉ was likely the first European to see the lake (1622). Hugues Randin was in the SAULT STE MARIE area around 1670, and Sieur DULHUT laid formal claim to the area around the lake in 1679. For 100 years the voyageurs braved the storms of Superior and carried furs along the N shore to GRAND PORTAGE and later FORT WILLIAM. Ft Michipicoten, at the eastern end of the lake, was established in 1725 and operated until 1904. After 1855 a ship canal was operated at Sault Ste Marie, and steamers passed in increasing numbers as huge quantities of grain and iron ore were carried to the lower lakes. Today, THUNDER BAY is one of the largest ports by volume in Canada. LAKE SUPERIOR PROVINCIAL PARK fronts on the lake between the Montréal and Michipicoten rivers and PUKASKWA NATIONAL PARK between the Pukaskwa and White rivers. The parks preserve a rugged environment of ancient mountains scoured in the last ICE AGE.