Lake Agassiz

The Rise and Demise of the World’s Greatest Lake

Reviewed by Brooke Campbell

November 14, 2018

Despite being one of the Prairie provinces, Manitoba is undoubtedly also a province of lakes; thousands of them dot its landscape. More than eight thousand years ago, most of the land comprising the present-day province — and regions beyond — was covered by just one body of water: Lake Agassiz.

In his book Lake Agassiz: The Rise and Demise of the World’s Greatest Lake, former Winnipeg Free Press journalist Bill Redekop provides a comprehensive look at a lake that is unknown to many Canadians. With a size larger than all of the Great Lakes combined, it was, perhaps, the largest lake the world has ever known.

Redekop traces Lake Agassiz’s history from its formation during a period of glacial melting to its drainage into Hudson Bay. But what truly captures a reader’s attention is the way he relates the human history of the region to its environmental history. Redekop interweaves geological and scientific data with the narrative of those who discovered the historical lake and stories of his own exploration of the province.

While doing this, he shows that, while Lake Agassiz no longer exists, it continues to affect people’s lives today. Filled with beautiful photographs and packed with information, Lake Agassiz is a fantastic read that brings new meaning to the phrase “I’m heading to the lake.”

Buy this book from McNally Robinson Booksellers

This article originally appeared in the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Canada’s History.

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