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Home » Lakes of the Atlas » Peace and Athabasca Region » Athabasca River Basin » Lac La Nonne

Lac La Nonne

    2.Drainage Basin Characteristics
    3.Lake Basin Characteristics
    4.Water Quality
    5.Biological Characteristics

1. Introduction

Map Sheets:83G/16
Location:Tp57 R2, 3 W5
Lat/Long:53°56'N 114°19'W

Lac la Nonne is a highly developed, popular recreational lake. It is situated about 90 km northwest of the city of Edmonton in the counties of Barrhead and Lac Ste. Anne. To reach the lake from Edmonton, take Highway 16 west, then Highway 43 north and west to the village of Gunn. Highway 33 extends north from Gunn near the west side of the lake, but local roads must be taken to reach the lakeshore (Fig. 1). The east shore can be reached by local roads from Secondary Road 651. The town of Barrhead, 20 km north of the lake, is the closest large population centre.

The lake's name, which means "the nun" in French, has an uncertain origin. The Cree name for the lake, mi-ka-sioo, means "eagle". In 1827, Edward Ermatinger recorded the lake's name in his journal as Lac la Nane. The lake may have been named for the White-winged Scoter, a duck that is common on the lake and is similar to an English duck known as "the nun". The bird's colouring, which is black with white wing bars and a white spot on the head, suggests a black-robed nun (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976). Another suggestion is that the lake was named for the nuns at nearby Lac Ste. Anne Mission, though the mission was not founded until 1843.

The Hudson's Bay Company established a trading post at Lac la Nonne in the early 1800s. The post was used to pasture the herds of pack horses needed to portage goods from Edmonton House to Fort Assiniboine on the Athabasca River (Edm. Reg. Plan. Commis. and Alta. Mun. Aff. 1980). By the 1830s, there were considerable numbers of Métis living by the lake. Missionaries arrived in the 1870s, and in 1878, the Oblate Fathers established a mission on the southeast shore at the site of the present-day Catholic Church in Camp Encounter. When the fur trade declined, the Métis moved away and the trading post and mission were closed (Barrhead Dist. Hist. Soc. 1967).

By the 1890s, several white families had settled around the lakeshore, and by 1912, most of the available land had been home-steaded. Horse and cattle raising were important occupations, and sawmills operated periodically near the lake. The first summer cottages were built on the eastern shore in the early 1900s. For many years the local recreation centre was Killdeer Beach Resort on the southwest shore. It began business in about 1928, and held activities such as "amphibious" horse races (Barrhead Dist. Hist. Soc. 1967). At present, it is one of two commercial facilities at the lake, which offer a total of 410 campsites (Alta. Hotel Assoc. 1989). As well, there is a restaurant, a gas station and three small stores in the subdivisions on the lakeshore. There are no provincial or municipal campgrounds at the lake.

There are several public access points with boat launches on Lac la Nonne (Fig. 2). They are maintained by either the County of Barrhead or the County of Lac Ste. Anne. The facilities in Lac la Nonne Subdivision at the southeast tip of the lake consist of three picnic tables, a water pipe and an area where small boats can be hand launched. A picnic area and boat launch are also located at the end of the road allowance near Greendale Subdivision, in the central part of the eastern shore. As well, there is one boat launch in the summer village of Birch Cove on the northwest shore and another in Williams Subdivision on the south shore. There are no boating restrictions over most of the lake, but in posted areas either all boats are prohibited or power boats are restricted to speeds of 12 km/hour (Alta. For.Ld. Wild. 1988). The County of Lac Ste. Anne maintains a cross-country ski trail, the Yukon trail, on Crown land northwest of the lake.

Lac la Nonne has dense blue-green algal blooms during summer and aquatic plants are abundant around the shoreline. The aquatic vegetation is frequently considered a nuisance by cottage owners, boaters and anglers. Although dissolved oxygen concentrations can become critical for fish survival during both summer and winter, no major fish kills have been reported. Walleye and northern pike are the main catches in the popular summer sport fishery. Walleye may contain concentrations of natural mercury that exceed recommended safe levels (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989). During winter, the most sought-after species are perch and large northern pike. All tributary streams to, and the outlet from, Lac la Nonne are closed to sport fishing for a designated period during April and May each year (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Physical Information
Area (km2)11.8
Max. Depth (m)19.8
Mean Depth (m)7.8
Dr. Basin Area (km2)277
Dam, WeirWeir
Drainage BasinAthabasca River Basin

Recreational Information
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishNorthern Pike, Lake Whitefish, Walleye, Yellow Perch

Water Quality Information
Trophic StatusHyper-Eutrophic
TP x (µg/L)168
CHLORO x (µg/L)55.5
TDS x (mg/L)186

2.Drainage Basin Characteristics »

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