Data Sources | Great Lakes Guide

Data Sources

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) released its Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples & Traditional Territory in September 2017. The document was reviewed by CAUT’s Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Working Group and is an invaluable resource for acknowledging the First Peoples of Canada, on whose traditional territories our Great Lakes communities are situated. Where available, each community’s description page begins with a reference to the traditional territories of Indigenous communities and nations in that area.

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The Great Lakes Commission

The Great Lakes Commission is an agency that assists the eight U.S. states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York) and the two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) that surround the Great Lakes in achieving economic prosperity and environmental protection. Since its inception in 1955, it has promoted collaboration among these regions to achieve sustainable use of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin. The GLC helps to facilitate discussion of common issues and the development of collective solutions. Through their open data, the Great Lakes Commission provided Great Lakes Guide with GIS data on the boundaries for the Great Lakes basin, each of the six individual watersheds, and the individual political boundaries for the relevant Canadian provinces and U.S. States.

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The Government of Ontario

The Government of Ontario is the provincial government for the province of Ontario, whose structures and power are dictated by the Constitution Act of 1867. The provincial government contains 30 ministries and is responsible for many services, including health services, social services, public education, and local government. Through their open data, the Government of Ontario provided Great Lakes Guide with GIS data on the boundaries for provincial parks, federal parks, and municipality boundaries.

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The Swim Guide

The Swim Guide is a website and smartphone application created and managed by Swim Drink Fish Canada. It allows users to find beaches near them and obtain accurate information about beach safety and water quality. The platform delivers free, real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and Australia. Swim Guide provides Great Lakes Guide with descriptions and images of each of the Great Lakes beaches, along with real-time data outlining the water quality.

As of 2018, Swim Guide is the most popular beach information service in the world, with nearly 2-million all time users.

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The Watermark Project

The Watermark Project is a community effort created and managed by Swim Fish Drink Canada to collect and archive true stories, called Watermarks about the ways people interact with water. A Watermark is a true story about you and a body of water and describes a memory of time spent near water or the way a body of water shaped your life. These stories are filed in the online archive and create a living record of this connection to help protect waterbodies in the future. Great Lakes Guide pulls in Watermarks from nearby places and allows you to read stories in full length as well as contribute your own at

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The Weather Network

The Weather Network is a media-based organization that presents current information on weather through television and various digital platforms. It provides active weather reports, alerts, and notifications to individuals within Canada, the UK, and the United States 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Weather Network provides Great Lakes Guide with up-to-date, live weather data at the various destinations throughout the site.

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The United States Geological Survey

The United States Geological Survey is an organization working to monitor, assess, and conduct scientific research about natural hazards. These natural hazards threaten livelihoods, water, environmental health, climate, energy, minerals, and other natural resources. The organization’s aim is to develop methods and tools that relay information to policy makers and the public to enhance their preparedness, response, and resilience to these hazards. Through their open data, the United States Geological Survey provided Great Lakes Guide with GIS data illustrating the natural boundaries of each of the Great Lakes. Great Lakes Guide combines within its scope the sub-watersheds of the five Great Lakes, the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River.

This product includes GeoLite2 data created by MaxMind, available from

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Ontario Nature Trails

Ontario Nature Trails is an online platform compiling detailed information about trails within the province of Ontario. It was created in 2016 as a passion project by Don Knight and his wife, Mel. Don has a passion for hiking. Not the strenuous back-country type of trekking, but the shorter variety trails, ranging from 1km to 10km. Hikes where the main motivation is a walk within, and a bonding with, nature. Ontario Nature Trails now hosts an extensive (and ever growing) database of over 1200 trails, all organized by region, municipality, and detailed keywords. These trails are featured on Great Lakes Guide.

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