Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods (French: lac des Bois) is a lake occupying parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and the U.S. state of Minnesota. It separates a small land area of Minnesota from the rest of the United States. The Northwest Angle and the town of Angle Township can be reached from the rest of Minnesota only by crossing the lake or by traveling through Canada. The Northwest Angle is the northernmost part of the contiguous United States. Its “northwesternmost point” served as a problematic landmark in treaties defining the international border.
Lake of the Woods is fed by the Rainy River, Shoal Lake, Kakagi Lake and other smaller rivers. The lake drains into the Winnipeg River and then into Lake Winnipeg. Ultimately, its outflow goes north through the Nelson River to Hudson Bay.
Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles (110 km) long and wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles (105,000 km) of shoreline. Lake of the Woods is also the sixth largest freshwater lake located (at least partially) in the United States, after the five Great Lakes, and the 36th largest lake in the world by area.
The lake’s islands provide nesting habitats for the piping plover and large numbers of American white pelicans and as recently as the early 20th century also provided calving habitat to boreal woodland caribou. There are also several hundred nesting pairs of bald eagles in this area.
Lake of the Woods, a translation of the original French name lac des Bois, was so named from its wooded setting. However, it may have been a mistranslation of the Ojibwe name. “The earliest name we find the lake known by is that given by Verendrye in his journey in 1731. He says it was called Lake Minitic (Cree: ministik; Ojibwe: minitig) or Des Bois. “Islands in a River”, probably referring to the many islands found in the northern half of the lake. The other name, Lac des Bois, or Lake of the Woods, seems to have been a mistranslation.