Eight things you didn’t know about Lake Nipissing

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Accommodations, Fishing, News, Outdoor Adventure, Summer, Tourism Activities & Experiences

With a deep connection to Canadian history, a prominent part of the identity of this waterfront city, Lake Nipissing presents an array of four-season activities for residents and visitors alike.  Here is a list of eight things which you may not have known about this best lake north of Muskoka:

Lake Nipissing is Ontario’s fifth largest lake

Lake Nipissing is a shallow lake, but that doesn’t mean it’s small. The body of Lake Nipissing is approximately 875 KM squared. It is 65 kilometers long from the East to the West and 25 kilometers wide from the north to the south. This is big enough to make Lake Nipissing the fifth largest lake in Ontario. To take it one step further, Lake Nipissing is the third largest lake which is entirely in Ontario. While it may be shallow, with an average depth of just 15 feet, the vastness of the lake, combined with the depth, make it a rich bounty of ecological wonder.

lake nipissing

Lake Nipissing is an Anglers Delight

Lake Nipissing is renowned for its fishing. It is the home to over 40 species of fish. The sandy basin, rocky islands and outcrops and weedy sections combine to provide a diverse habitat for fish species including walleye, perch, northern pike, and both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Whether you love to sit in a boat and fish in the clean, open water, or prefer to snowmobile out to an ice shack and auger out a fishing hole – Lake Nipissing lets you do both! Experience the four-season fishing of Lake Nipissing. In fact, in 2023 Lake Nipissing was named the number one ice fishing destination in Canada by fishingbooker.com.

ice fishing on lake nipissing

Lake Nipissing has White Beaches to Lounge and Clean Waters to Swim

Are you looking to pop up your umbrella, lay down your towel and relax this summer? You’re in luck! North Bay is home to some of the best white-sand beaches in the region. The shoreline of the northeastern corner of Lake Nipissing is full of rocky outcrops and family-friendly beaches. The most popular beach on Lake Nipissing is Shabogesic Beach. Groomed in the mornings, this beach is like Sauble or the Muskoka beaches without the heavy crowds. It is one of the best beaches in Ontario for swimming. It is supervised by lifeguards and home to a modern playground. Looking for some recreational fun? Kinsmen Beach is a great spot to break out the beach games. Come throw a frisbee or a football and hang out at a local favorite. Lake Nipissing is a shallow lake, but Kinsmen Beach is one of the few spots where it gets deep quickly. Don’t forget to check out Sunset Park Beach or Champlain Park Beach either! Let these city beaches and their soft white sand lead you right into the clean water.

lake nipissing beaches

This Lake is made for Cruising      

Cruises aren’t made for just oceans and seas! Lake Nipissing has them too. The Chief Commanda II (affectionately referred to as ‘The Chief’ by locals) is a 320-passenger twin-hull vessel which cruises the beautiful waters of Lake Nipissing. Equipped with two bars, a snack bar, washrooms, a barbeque and onboard entertainment, this three-decked vessel is a picture-perfect way to see Lake Nipissing. Hop on at dusk and take a spin around Callander Bay to witness a famous Lake Nipissing sunset. Head on out to the Manitou Islands and take in the scenes while you learn about the history and significance. Take a spin along the French River or check out the breathtaking fall colours during an autumn ride along the Lake Nipissing North Shore.

cruise lake nipissing


They love North Bay so much, they come back every year! For a few weeks each summer, North Bay is home to a large group of Shadflies, also known as Mayflies. Shadflies are very important part of the ecosystem and are a sign that the water quality is really good. They emerge from the waters and head to shore once the lake reaches 20 degrees Celsius. While their time spent on land is very short, they play an important role for aquatic environment and food chains. Bear witness to their harmless annual invasion usually in and around the month of July.


A Lake with Deep History

It may be shallow, but the history of Lake Nipissing flows deep. Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park lies on the Mattawa River, a tributary to Lake Nipissing. That’s not for no good reason! Lake Nipissing was discovered in 1611 by Etienne Brule, who was an associate of Samuel de Champlain! Lake Nipissing was likely formed about 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age as the final glacier carved its way north over the Pre-Cambrian Shield. As the land rose out of Pangea, the massive body of water which was the Atlantic Ocean covering the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Valleys and Nipissing, Georgian Bay, and the Great Lakes, receded to the East and created the watershed between Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake. This watershed was quickly put to important use.

Lake Nipissing as the Headwaters to the Commerce Highway

Lake Nipissing is now known as the shores of North Bay. It is recognized as a top-tier fishing spot in Ontario, as well as having the cleanest waters to swim in, and some of the best white sand beaches to relax under the sun on. Before Lake Nipissing gained renowned recognition as a premier lake, it was a vital part of trade routes. Along with the Ottawa River, Mattawa River and French River systems, Lake Nipissing was the main highway for fur traders, missionaries, and explorers of different natures to move commerce throughout North America. When the Canadian Pacific Railroad was created in the late 1800’s, Lake Nipissing remained integral to logging companies, who would boom and tow logs cut in the winter all over the province. There are now 38 dams controlling the inflow and outflow to Lake Nipissing, which ensure plenty of clean water is available in time for swimming, paddling, and boating season. Known today as La Vase, you can portage on Canoe Day each year or stick to the walking trail at the northern reaches of the historic La Vase Portage.

la vase portages

You can stay right on the lake   

Open your window and feel the lakeside breeze. Did you know there are several accommodations you can find right on the shores of Lake Nipissing? If you’re looking for a lakeside getaway then look no further than North Bay. Known for its city beaches and lake vibes, if you’re coming to the Gateway City, these are great places to stay! Whether it’s the Torbay Suites, Glen Garry Motel & Cottages, or the Finch Beach Resort, there is no better way to start your day then rolling out of bed, strolling out the door, and wading straight into the clean, safe for swimming Lake Nipissing. Find the lakeside accommodation right for you!

Stay on Lake Nipissing

With all that Lake Nipissing has to offer, it truly is one of the best lakes in Ontario. Don’t just take our word for it! Pick your season and book your accommodations now.


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