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What is the sixth Great Lake?
from Margaret in West Palm Beach, FL, Age 50

There are actually two candidates for the title of the "Sixth" Great Lake: Lake Champlain and Georgian Bay in Lake Huron.

Lake Champlain certainly has the most legitimate hold on the status as a Great Lake. On March 6, 1998, Former President Bill Clinton signed Senate Bill 927 into Public Law 105-160, which signified Lake Champlain as the new sixth Great Lake. This occurred among much controversy regarding funding for the national Sea Grant program and spurred heated discussion around the topic of "What makes a Great Lake great?"

It was well-established by many authorities, however, that Lake Champlain lies outside of the Great Lakes Basin. This means that the waters that flow into and out of Lake Champlain are completely separate from the waters that flow into and out of all of the five traditional Great Lakes, which all share the same water.

Georgian Bay, usually recognized as being part of Lake Huron, is one of the two largest bays in the Great Lakes (the other is Saginaw Bay). The writer and historian James Barry even wrote the book about the body of water titled Georgian Bay: The Sixth Great Lake. It is also sometimes thought of as a separate Great Lake because it is nearly separated from the rest of Lake Huron by Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula.

Related references:
About: Geography -- Lake Champlain, the Sixth Great Lake?
GLC: Policy Position -- Designation of Lake Champlain as a Great Lake

Thank you for your question!


Answered on September 25, 2001

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