Lake Ontario's condition has fluctuated since European settlement, and our understanding of the linkages between observed ecosystem shifts and stressors is improving. Changes in the physical and chemical environment of the lake due to non-indigenous species, pollution, sedimentation, turbidity, and climate change altered the pelagic primary producers, so algal assessments have been valuable for tracking long-term conditions. We present a chronological account of algal assessments to summarize past and present environmental conditions in Lake Ontario.