Lake Athabasca, fourth largest lake of Canada, c.3,120 sq mi (8,100 sq km), c.200 mi (320 km) long and from 5 to 35 mi (8–56 km) wide, NE Alta., and SW Sask., at the edge of the Canadian Shield. A part of the Mackenzie River system, the lake receives the Athabasca River from the south and drains N into Great Slave Lake by way of the Slave River. Gold and uranium are found nearby. Fort Chipewyan was built (1788) at the west end of the lake by Roderick McKenzie of the North West Company and has been maintained. Steamers of the Hudson's Bay Company ply the lake in summer between Chipewyan and Fond du Lac, from where the canoe route runs by way of Wollaston and Reindeer lakes to the Churchill River. Philip Turnor, the British surveyor, surveyed and mapped the lake between 1790 and 1792.
Athabasca Pass, 5,736 ft (1,748 m) high, W Alta. and E British Columbia, Canada, leading from the headwaters of the Athabasca River across the Continental Divide to the Columbia River. It was discovered by David Thompson, a Canadian fur trader, or one of his agents c.1811, and for the next 50 years it was the chief route of the Hudson's Bay men on their journeys to and from the Columbia River country.
Athabasca (ăthəbăs´kə), river, 765 mi (1,231 km) long, rising in the Columbia snowfield of the Canadian Rockies near the Alta.–British Columbia line and flowing N through Jasper National Park, then NE and N across central Alta. to Lake Athabasca. It is the southernmost headstream of the Mackenzie River. Its chief tributaries are the Pembina, Lesser Slave, and Clearwater rivers. The Athabasca River has long been the main route to the Mackenzie valley. There are extensive deposits of oil-bearing sand along the river near Fort McMurray.