|Lake St. Clair|
|Landsat satellite photo, showing Lake Saint Clair (center), as well as St. Clair River connecting it to Lake Huron (to the North) and Detroit River connecting it to Lake Erie (to the South)|
|Lake type||Freshwater Lake|
|Primary inflows||St. Clair River, Thames River, Sydenham River, Clinton River|
|Primary outflows||Detroit River|
|Basin countries||Canada, United States|
|Max. length||26 mi (42 km)|
|Max. width||24 mi (39 km)|
|Surface area||430 sq mi (1,114 km2)|
|Average depth||11 ft (3.4 m)|
|Max. depth||27 ft (8.2 m)|
|Water volume||0.82 cu mi (3.4 km3)|
|Residence time||7 days (2-30 days)|
|Shore length1||169 mi (272 km)|
|Surface elevation||574 ft (175 m)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
Lake St. Clair (French: Lac Sainte-Claire) is a lake that lies between Ontario, Canada and Michigan, United States, located about 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Approximately 430 square miles (1,100 km2) in area, the lake is part of the Great Lakes system; however, because of its relatively small size, it is very rarely included in enumerations of the Great Lakes. There are ongoing proposals for its official recognition as a Great Lake, which would affect its inclusion in research and other projects designated for "the Great Lakes". Along with the St. Clair River and Detroit River, Lake St. Clair connects Lake Huron (to the north) and Lake Erie (to the south).
The lake is 26 miles (42 km) from north to south and 24 miles (39 km) from east to west. It is a very shallow lake with an average depth of about 11 feet (3.4 m), and a maximum natural depth of 21.3 feet (6.5 m), although it is 27 feet (8.2 m) deep in the navigation channel which has been dredged for freighter passage. The lake is fed from Lake Huron at its north by the St. Clair River, which has an extensive delta, the largest within the Great Lakes system. The Thames River and Sydenham River enter the lake from the east in Southwestern Ontario, and the Clinton River enters from Michigan on the west. The lake is drained on its southwest end into Lake Erie by the Detroit River.
The residence time of water in Lake St. Clair averages seven days, but can vary from two to thirty days, depending on wind direction and circulation patterns. If the water flows through the navigation channel, which is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the time the water remains in the lake is perhaps just two days.
First Nations/Native Americans used the lake as part of their extensive navigation of the Great Lakes. The Mississaugas called present-day Lake St. Clair Wahwehyahtahnoong. They established a village near the lake in the latter part of the 17th century. Early French mapmakers had identified the lake by a variety of French and Iroquois names, including Lac des Eaux de Mer [Seawater Lake]; Ganatchio (kettle, for its shape), in French Lac de la Chaudière. A variety of Native names were associated with sweetness, as the lake was freshwater as opposed to saltwater. These included Otsiketa (sugar or candy), Kandequio or Kandekio (possibly candy), Oiatinatchiketo (probably a form of Otsiketa), and Oiatinonchikebo. Similarly, the Iroquois called present-day Lake Huron, "The Grand Lake of the Sweet Sea" (fresh water as opposed to salt water.) This association was conveyed on French maps as Mer Douce (sweet sea) and Dutch maps as the Latin Mare Dulce.
On August 12, 1679, the French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle arrived with an expedition. He named the body of water Lac Sainte-Claire as the expedition discovered it on the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi. The historian on the voyage, Louis Hennepin, recorded that the Iroquois called the lake Otseketa.
As early as 1710, the English identified the lake on their maps as Saint Clare. By the Mitchell Map in 1755, the spelling appeared as St. Clair, the form that became most widely used. Some scholars credit the name as honoring the American Revolutionary War General Arthur St. Clair, later Governor of the Northwest Territory, but the name Lake St. Clair was in use with the current spelling long before St. Clair became a notable figure. Together the place name and general's name likely influenced settlers' naming a proliferation of nearby political jurisdictions: the Michigan county and township of St. Clair, as well as the cities of St. Clair and St. Clair Shores.
The origin of the name has also been confused with that Patrick Sinclair, a British officer who purchased land on the St. Clair River at the outlet of the Pine River. There, in 1764, he built Fort Sinclair, which was in use for nearly twenty years before being abandoned.
Unlike most smaller lakes in the region – but like the Great Lakes – Lake comes at the front of its proper name, rather than the end; this is reflective of its French origins.
The southwestern portion of the lake shore is lined by the wealthy eastern suburbs of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario known as the Grosse Pointe communities and Russell Woods and St. Clair Beach respectively. Public access to the lake is highly restricted in these areas, limited to private marinas and parks that are open only to residents of the specific community. Further north, in Harrison Township, lies Metro Beach, a popular public beach.
Several yacht clubs are located along this shore, including:
Many of North America's fresh water fish species can be found in the lake throughout the seasons. Species popular with anglers include Bass, Bluegill, Bullhead, Catfish, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Perch, Salmon, Smelt, Steelhead, Sturgeon, Trout, and Walleye. Several invasive species also inhabit the lake, including zebra mussels and round gobies. Additionally, cormorants have recently become a problem by decreasing the fish population.