Take a virtual tour of our facilties

Consisting of laboratories, a workshop, a kitchen and dining hall, dormitories, and living quarters, IISD-ELA is a self-contained community for up to 60 research personnel. Use our virtual map to see where our facilities are located, or scroll down the page to learn more details about each facility.


Our Facilities


To get to IISD-ELA, you needs to turn off Highway 17—the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario—onto Pine Road.


This is a 30 km long, well-maintained gravel road.


Follow the signs, drive past several experimental lakes, and in about 45 minutes you’ll be at our camp!


After a long day of field or lab work, you will want to chow down on a much-deserved meal.


We are fully serviced and can support upwards of 70 hungry scientists, offering three freshly-cooked meals a day during weekdays and access to cooking facilities on weekends.


Eat at a table, or perhaps while cooling off outside!


At IISD-ELA, scientists like to work hard and play hard!


The nearby lakes are often used for fishing and canoe trips on weekends, and games of beach volleyball have been known to become frighteningly competitive.


Everyone looks forward to the annual Variety Night, a talent show where absolutely anything can be considered a talent.


Visiting researchers to IISD-ELA will be given a room in one of our simply yet cozy dormitory-style residences.


These residences—Johnson, Vallentyne, and Beach House, among others—are equipped with full bathroom, shower, and laundry facilities, electricity, and WiFi.


Once we have sampled the lakes, each of our teams of scientists have their own in-house lab to which they can return and analyze their work.


These include a toxicology lab, a chemistry lab, and a fish lab—all of which are fully outfitted with the necessary equipment.

The Sacred Firepit

Nestled between Lake 239 and 240, the Sacred Firepit serves as our connection to the spirit of the area.


Ceremony, prayer, and offerings of tobacco are common here—the most notable of which is the Fall Feast, which serves to cultivate the relationships between First Nations and IISD-ELA and foster collaboration on various pressing environmental issues.

Meteorological Site

Since 1968, we have data tracking the health of all aspects of the environment, and meteorological data is no exception.


Our ‘Met Site’ has instruments to collect daily data on temperature, air quality, humidity and wind speed, as well as samples of daily precipitation, to be used for our experiments or to be shared with partners across the continent, including Environment and Climate Change Canada.



Switch to Our Featured Lakes

Getting to, around, and from the Lakes

All active research lakes are equipped with motorboats and boat landings. Users must possess a Pleasure Craft Operators Card to drive motorboats.


ATVs are available for use to access remote research lakes. Users must possess a valid ATV training certificate to use the camp ATVs. An ATV training course is available at the IISD-ELA facility. Please contact the Operations Manager for available times and pricing.


Shuttle vans for the transport of supplies and staff are available on a weekly basis from Winnipeg and Kenora to IISD-ELA. Please contact our Operations Manager for the current schedule.


Meals are provided by the food services team from Monday to Friday throughout the open water season and the food services team undertakes great effort in the planning and preparation of wholesome, healthy, and diverse food styles that will appeal to the various interests of staff, students, and researchers at the IISD-ELA facility.


If you’re here at the weekend or during the winter, you will need to prepare your own meals with available food and leftovers.


If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, you’ll need to let the Operations Manager know before you arrive at the IISD-ELA site. Note that food preferences are not considered to be dietary requirements.



Breakfast 7:00 a.m. – 7:45 a.m.

Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Getting Things Fixed at the Machine Shop

A 3,500-square-foot workshop is available for year-round maintenance of trucks, outboard motors, ATVs, snowmobiles, and road maintenance equipment.


The workshop is heated using waste heat from the diesel generators that power the facility. In addition to vehicle maintenance, the shop has welding and carpentry tools for the maintenance and design of field equipment.


Laundry facilities are included in the per diem cost for all researchers visiting the facility.


The laundry room includes three washers and two dryers.


All visitors are encouraged to save propane by making use of the multiple clothes lines in various locations throughout camp instead of using the dryers.

Chemistry Laboratory

The chemistry laboratory offers 6,800 square feet of lab space with a centrally distributed purified water system piped to dedicated faucets in each lab.


Lab space is assigned to visiting researchers according to research needs and availability. Visiting researchers are encouraged to use the services of the onsite lab.


Reach out to Sonya Havens should you have any further questions, and learn more about what goes down in our chemistry lab here.

Fish Laboratory

The IISD-ELA Fish Lab is the newest research building on site. Opened in 2011, the fish research team had significant input into the design and features of the Lab. This collaboration resulted in a large building perfectly suited to research on freshwater fish.


The Fish Lab houses the core IISD-ELA fish research team (one research fellow, two biologists, one technician, and two research assistants) and has desk space to accommodate additional researchers/graduate students. A long steel table with two built-in sinks takes up the middle of the lab and is ideal for dissections and other bench work. The Fish Lab also houses a gender-inclusive washroom, drying oven, fume hood, fridge, two freezers, a janitorial closet, and a flammables cabinet. The floors are heated and there are high ceilings with fans and windows for ventilation (no air conditioning).


A mudroom with a floor drain keeps the mess from field gear and clothing in one location. A storage room houses seasonal field equipment and lab supplies. A limited amount of storage space is available for use by external researchers on assigned shelves in the storage room, which also features a garage-style door for the transfer of large items.


Outside, the Fish Lab features a covered, wrap-around deck with a storage cabinet, a long steel table and sink with running water, a long garden hose, power outlets, grates for drying bins/buckets, and hooks for hanging wet gear/nets.


Although much of the equipment in the Fish Lab is for IISD-ELA staff and student use only, some basic items may be available for use by external researchers. These items include bins/buckets, boot dryers, measuring boards, PFDs/life jackets, ratchet straps, and hand tools. Visiting researchers must inquire about equipment availability prior to arriving at IISD-ELA by contacting Lee Hrenchuk and Lauren Hayhurst.

Sharing your Knowledge at the Site

Throughout the open water season, a weekly seminar series is organized with presentations from IISD-ELA scientists, graduate students, and visiting researchers.


All long-term visitors to the facility are highly encouraged to prepare a seminar for presentation to the research community on site.

Powering the World's Freshwater Laboratory

The world’s freshwater laboratory is located in a remote and pristine area of northwestern Ontario, at the end of a private-access 30-km gravel road. There is no connection to the main power grid of Ontario.


All energy needs of the camp are provided by a set of diesel generators and propane storage.


We are currently working hard to include the use of renewable energy technologies that will allow a shift in power generation away from reliance on diesel and propane.

Courses for high school and undergraduate students

Learn about scientific principles, field techniques, and integrated approaches to understanding global freshwater issues.

Discover our field courses