Molluscs, ostracodes, diatoms, pollen, plant macrofossils, peat, and wood have been found in glacial Lake Algonquin sediments, and estuarine-alluvial sediments of the same age, in southern Ontario. Molluscs and ostracodes are particularly abundant and widespread. Pollen analysis of Lake Algonquin sediments, bogs on the Algonquin terrace, and upland bogs above the Algonquin terrace, indicate that Lake Algonquin was still in existence at the time of the spruce-pine pollen transition, previously dated at an average of 10,600 yr BP at a number of sites in Michigan, Ohio, and southern Ontario. Wood in estuarine-alluvial sediments graded to the Algonquin level is of similar radiocarbon age. Evidence from several sites in the eastern Great Lakes area suggests the presence of a preceding low-water stage (Kirkfield outlet stage); drowned and alluviated valleys and fining-upward sediment sequences have been identified in this study as further supporting evidence. Lake Algonquin drained from the southern sites by isostatic tilting and eventual opening of the “North Bay outlet” some time shortly after 10,400 yr BP.
Our radiocarbon dates suggest the low-water stage has an age of about 11,000 yr BP, and that Lake Algonquin drained 10,000–15,000 y. a. Dates previously published for the Lake Michigan basin are generally too young in comparison with ours, and dates on the Champlain Sea are generally too old. More critical evaluation of all dating results is desirable.
From fossil remains we suggest a rapidly expanding fauna in the waters of Lake Algonquin. The spruce pollen period was a time of rapid faunal and floral migration, when the ice front was retreating from Kirkfield to North Bay, Ontario. Diversity of some species and fossil numbers increased substantially at the transition from spruce to pine just before Lake Algonquin drained.