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North Lake is a community and geographical feautre located on the North Side of the Island. The lake proper lies adjacent to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is approximately 10km West of of East Point[1]. Famous for its spectacular fishing and harbour, North Lake is known as "the Tuna Capital of the world".

Name Edit

Like many places on Prince Edward Island, North Lake is a geographic place name, named after a natural feature (in this case, quite obviously, after the lake).

Early names for the location can be seen on the map's of De la Ronde in 1721 and Bellin in 1744, which indicate the place as being named Riviere Tranchemontagne, possibly named for a family. Samuel Holland, in 1765, labelled the area as Surveyor's Inlet and Surveyor's Creek. By 1880 the name North Lake appears in Meacham's Atlas, and a post office named North Lake was present from 1870-1913.

Natural Geography Edit

North Lake has long been described as a place of natural beauty, and an 1899 article in The Island Magazine states that "the lake itself is decidely picturesque, and must certainly appeal to all lovers of the beautiful in nature. The camera fiend would here find ample opportunity for the pursuit of his hobby; while parties wishing to camp out during the summer will find along the upper reaches of the lake, situations admirably adapted to the purpose... the nearest [train] station is Souris... but a drive either awheel or by carriage, through the pleasant farming sections and along the sea shore is infinitely superior to travelling in a closed railway carriage"[2].

North Lake Edit

The lake itself is about a mile and a half long by a half mile wide at its centre, and it narrows gradually towards its Western end[1]. According to Rose, the principal source of water for the lake is the spring at Fountain Head, which originates in the Glen. Another small stream, called the Mill Creek, feeds into North Lake as well.

North Lake has had a varied history of fresh and salt water[3]. According to Burke, in the time of the French occupation of the area the Lake was connected to the Gulf by a natural channel, which allowed for the lake to serve as a harbour for fishing vessels[3]. Rose, furthermore, writes that " a Mr. Anderson, one of the early settlers, lost his life by drowning while attempting to pilot a small vessel in to the Lake"[1]. This entrance, however, "gradually became choked with sand, rendering it impassable"[3]. This occurred prior to 1855, as Burke explains that about that year the residents of the area cut a canal through the sand bar in order to permit their vessels to enter the lake once more. This canal was shortlived though, as storms soon came "and the sand drifted in and packed closely, so that there is now [at the time of Burke's writing, 1886] a firm and level roadway where the merchant vessel St. Malo once rode anchor"[3].

Such was the case as the twentieth century dawned, where the Lake was entirely landlocked (and thus primarily a freshwater lake), with only minor streams permitting overflow across the beach and into the Gulf. These streams also served to trap drifting sand which the wind carried across the shoreline, and if it had not been for these streams, much of the nearby farmland would have been overcome with sand[1].

The landlocked lake proved to be problematic for the locals of the area, as a sheltered harbour for fishing vessels was much desired, and as Rose writes, "for many years the fishermen and buyers of North Lake longed for a harbor"[1]. Efforts were made to cut a channel from the lake to the present day opening of the harbour, as it was deemed to be the ideal location, but the hand tools available to the workers at that time made the job an impossibility[4][1].

But it was on 7 December 1917, by an act of providence, that a storm surge had broken open the sandbar around the lake and had joined it to the ocean, making it a salt water body once more[4].

After the channel was open, "a trio composed of Hughes, Quinn and MacMillan secured a contract on June 28, 1920 for building channel piers. Lumber was taken from New Brunswick by railroad in round logs. Most of it was sawed at the railway station. More was bought on the Island and sawed at the lake bridge by a Shepherd from near Peake's Station"[4]. MacDonald also adds that "Columbia MacDonald was inspector for the channel pier. In 1922 the first bridge was built to span the channel, but it was not satisfactory as it interfered with boats and with ice leaving the lake in spring. A new bridge of superior type was built later by Joseph Campbell of Fairfield"[4].

Winter on the Lake Edit

Before indoor rinks became popular, the lake was an attractive place for skaters and hockey players from all around, where, as Rose writes, "the young and not so youthful, used to flit around and cut the figure eight with great dexterity[1].

Ice boat racing was also a popluar winter pastime on the lake. For a detailed look into this sport, see Winter Fun.

Lobster Factories Edit

Fishing Edit

The lake itself is known for its trout fishing, a reputation which hearkens back quite some time. The Island Magazine of 1899 dedicated an article to fishing at the lake, writing that "the lake has those qualifications which will appeal more forcibly to the heart of the sportsman; for, as a fishing place it will satisfy the most eager angler"[2].

Author R.E. Smith continues, writing that "the trout in the lake are of the finest quality, coming as they do right from the salt water", although the author explains that a two or three pound fish is the limit to their size[2]. Lastly, Smith concludes that "in the immediate vicinity of North Lake, we find a number of other lakes and ponds, all of which will amply occupy either the angler or the gunner, and reward him most abundantly for his visit"[2].

Eels are also caught on the lake, preferably early in the winter when the ice is not so difficult to cut through. Smelts too can be caught here, and while there was once a thriving smelt fishery at the lake, they are not as popular as they once were in the area[1]. Salmon can be found in the upper reaches of the lake's streams and tributaries[1].

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Rose, Livingstone. History of North Lake (Past and Present). UPEI Library. 3 December 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Archibald, Irwin. "Where the Speckled Trout Doth Jump". The Prince Edward Island Magazine. July 1899. Web. 3 December 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Burke, Reverend Alfred (A.E.). History of the Parish: Mission of St. Columba, East Point. St. Columba Bicentennial History Publication. 2006. Web. 3 December 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 MacDonald, Mary and Stewart, Mrs. Clinton. Historical Sketch of Eastern Kings. 1972. Web. 3 December 2017.