Baptiste Lake NAM-43

Riparian Nation(s) Canada
Surface Area 10 km2 Mean Depth 8.62 m Volume 0.08 km3
Shoreline 26.4 km Catchment Area 288 km2 Residence Time 6 yr
Frozen Period Nov-Apr Mixing Type Partially m Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


Baptiste Lake is a very productive medium-sized lake located within the County of Athabasca in central Alberta. It has two distinct basins joined by a long neck, called the Narrows. Both basins are similar in size; the north basin is shallow (15.5 m), whereas the south basin is deep (27.5 m). The lake is situated 165 km northwest of the City of Edmonton and 16 km west of the Town of Athabasca.

The lake was named after Baptiste Majeau, an early settler in the area. The first permanent native settlement on Baptiste Lake was established in the 1880's by a group of Metis from Saskatchewan. They lived on long, narrow lake-front lots. By 1904 farming had begun in the drainage basin, and by 1909 most of the land that was not already settled was available for homesteaders. Much of the present agricultural land was broken first in the period up to 1915.

Although most of the drainage basin, particularly in the western section, remains undeveloped, much of the land around the lake is cleared. There are three private campgrounds and five summer villages on the lake.

The lake is used heavily for fishing, boating and swimming. The public boat launch on the southwest corner is part of a day-use area that includes a large dock, washrooms, picnic shelter and picnic tables. It is operated by the County of Athabasca. There are also private boat launches at the resorts on the south side of the lake, and a small confectionary store. Popular sport fishes include yellow perch, northern pike and walleye. The water quality in Baptiste Lake reflects the nutrient-rich soils in the drainage basin; very dense algal blooms can develop in summer. The shallower north basin generally has heavier blooms than the deeper south basin, but both are classified as hypertrophic.

In the early 1970's, concerns were raised about the effects of rapid development on the many users of the lake and on aspects of water quality. These concerns were followed up in 1975 with an evaluation of cottagers. From 1976 through 1979, Alberta Environment carried out an intensive water quality study of the lake. The goals of this project were to develop methods to evaluate the impact of past, present and future developments, and to manage the water quality of Alberta lakes. In 1977, most lake development was halted while a management plan was developed. In 1979, Alberta Municipal Affairs, in conjunction with the County of Athabasca, developed a plan that would prohibit further subdivision of land for non-farm related residential use at Baptiste Lake. This plan also recommended an approach to deal with concerns about fluctuating water levels and hazardous boating speeds near the lakeshore. As of August 1988, no regulations had been implemented to deal with the concerns on water levels and boating speeds (2-8).

Photo of Baptiste Lake
Photo: E. E. Prepas, D. Webb and D. D. Trew