The original Indigenous name for Otter Lake was Nigge-Cu-Bing, meaning ‘Lake of Many Otters‘. Otter Lake is located in the Township of Seguin (formerly Foley Township), in the District of Parry Sound. Otter Lake also lies within the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBBR) which is a globally-important region designated by UNESCO in 2004. Eastern Georgian Bay is the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, or groups of islands, that provide a variety of habitats for species at risk.
A fairly substantial size lake in comparison to those surrounding it, Otter Lake is easily distinguishable on an area map due to its unique shape. The Long Arm, a long and narrow portion, stretches out at the southeast end of the lake. ‘Little Otter‘ is a smaller, shallower part of the lake at the northeast end, separated from Big Otter by ‘The Narrows’. The surface area of the lake is 1251 acres. The perimeter of the lake is 38 km, with 6.6 km of island shoreline.
A dam at the Boyne River in Little Otter controls the water level. The water is tested for clarity each year with a secchi disc, showing an average of 5.0 meters (the depth to which an 8″ black & white disc is visible). Maximum depth of the lake is 147 feet, with a mean depth of 35.5 feet.
During the late 1800’s, people were offered land grants to encourage settlement in the area. Highway 69 served as a colonization road. Farms began to dot the landscape and agriculture became a predominant business.
Seasonal residents appeared on the lake in the early 1900’s, arriving by train. The island properties were generally bought up first. Both CN and CP rail lines pass the shores of Otter Lake.
Around the same time, logging became a thriving business. What wasn’t logged over was burnt in a huge fire that spread across the area. This explains why the trees in the early photos (see Vintage Photo Gallery) are small and the land is covered in scrub. The trees around the lake today are a maturing second growth generation. There is a typical mix of pine, cedar, spruce, maple, oak and birch. The shoreline is mostly rocky and rugged, a typical Canadian Shield Lake, with few sandy beaches.
Big Otter Lake is classified as a Lake Trout Lake and mainly includes Lake Trout, Large & Small Mouth Bass and Northern Pike. Little Otter is too shallow for Lake Trout. Since 1949, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) stocked the lake with Lake Trout. In 2000, the management objective for Lake Trout changed from artificial, supplemental planting of Lake Trout to managing for a natural, self-sustaining Lake Trout population. Lake Trout plantings, which are considered a deleterious stress on the natural population, ceased in 1998. During 2001, the Otter Lake Ratepayers’ Association, in cooperation with the Parry Sound Anglers & Hunters and the MNR, created six spawning beds. This is an ongoing project.
Over 400 cottages/residents currently exist on Otter Lake, as well as four resorts, one marina and one public beach. Development has been frozen for several years as the lake is over it’s Recreational Carrying Capacity according to the Seguin Official Plan.