Lake Temagami 2002-2021


Recorded by Glen Toogood, Bob Farr, Steve Battis, Ron Miller, Terry Delachevrotiere, Dave Wilfong, Penny St. Germain and Ottertooth

Picking the date is not an exact science. Lake Temagami, one of the deepest lakes, is a late closer and our standard-bearer. (Lakes Timiskaming and Wanapitei go later.) The North Arm within the lake, particularly between Rabbitnose and Devil's Island, is usually the last section, but sometimes south of Cattle Island. The best locations to record complete freeze-up has been at Devil's and Garden islands, which had permanent residents until recently. Temagami Bay tends to ice-over earlier than most of the lake.

Has there been a change over the years? Normally freeze-up could be counted on for the middle of December. But with four years of open water over New Year's Day in the last 12 years, this may be a new normal soon.

Glen Toogood lived on Lake Temagami on the north side of Garden Island and was our North Arm watchman until 2008, when he moved off the lake. Bob Farr who lives on Bear Island was our second sentinel during the record-setting holdover of 2003-04. Since 2009, we have used satellite images, email and telephone calls around the lake.



  Observation point


Dec. 17

Garden Island  

Dec. 15

Jan. 10*

Garden Island
Cattle Island

Dec. 24

Garden Island  

Dec. 13

Garden Island  

Dec. 29**

Jan. 16

Garden Island  

Dec. 15

Garden Island  

Dec. 18


Jan. 13***


Dec. 18


Dec. 29

Bob Farr  

Dec. 27

  2013      Dec. 14 Satellite  
  2014      Dec. 29 Chimo Island2  
  2015-16      Jan. 13 Chimo Island3  
  2016-17      Jan. 1 Narrows Island, Flyover4  
  2017      Dec. 17 Satellite  
  2018      Dec. 23 Bear Island5  
  2019      Dec. 19 Bear Island, Southwest Arm6  
  2020      Dec. 19 Bear Island, North Arm, Temagami Island7  
  2021      Jan. 1 Bear Island, islands near Cattle Island, Temagami Island,8  

* There were record-setting open areas over New Year's Day during the winter of 2003-04, but most areas were frozen, and there was ice travel on the lakes. Our official observer at Garden Island was iced in on December 15, and stayed that way. Final freeze-up, observed by Bob Farr, was south of Cattle Island at the top of the South Arm on January 10.

** After a weak freeze-up on December 29, a melt comes in on New Year's Day. Then final freeze-up comes January 16.

*** This was an extraordinary year. Not only did mild temperatures into the second half of December keep large areas of Lake Temagami open, but high winds, acting on the open water, set the water oscillating. This re-opened some frozen areas and made the lake unsafe for travel. No one knew where the ice would give way. Three locals went through on previously safe ice. On January 12, only a small area of Devil's Bay was still open, but low temperatures that night froze Lake Kipawa. As the ice was still unsafe for travel in the North Arm and clouds cut off the satellite, we estimated January 13 as freeze-up.

1 By Bob Farr, Temagami First Nation airboat driver

2 By Steve Battis, permanent resident, passing near Chimo Island.

3 By Terry Delachevrotiere at Chimo Island. Another unusual year though a quick freeze once it got cold but not achieving the previous open-water record in January, 2006.

4 By Steve Battis, permanent resident, on Narrows Island, and islander Ron Miller's flyover.

5 By Bob Farr, permanent resident on Bear Island. Freeze-up was on the cusp from December 10 to 23.

6 By Bob Farr, permanent resident on Bear Island, and Stephen Battis, a resident on the Southwest Arm.

7 By permanent residents Bob Farr (Bear Island), Penny St. Germain (Temagami Island), and Dave Wilfong (Devil's Island).

8 By permanent residents Bob Farr (Bear Island), Penny St. Germain (Temagami Island), Paul and Andra TenWesteneind (Island 700), Sacha Stevens (Island 988).

  Break-up dates

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