The upper great lakes are like inland seas. Lake Superior is big enough to have tides and swells. I've only been on it in a small boat (40 ft.) once, and it was like being on the ocean. Huron is more land-locked so doesn't get the big storms and sea effects but it can still swallow large ships, and has done so frequently.
The remaining lakes are tiny by comparison:
St. Clair is a wide spot in the river.
Erie is very shallow, so in any kind of wind it rolls up quickly. Lake effect snow often buries the City of Buffalo, NY. There is a large pool of natural gas under this lake.
Ontario, the last in the chain, it the largest of the lower three, but doesn't have quite the nasty effects of the upper lakes. I've done a lot of sailing on it, and it can be as contrary as any large body of water even though it really isn't very deep. 283 m. at the deepest hole down by the St. Lawrence River. However, with Canada's largest city (Toronto) on its west shore, Lake Ontario can have some rather nasty storms that head for this big city because of the heat low that rises from the city. The west shore of the lake, from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the mouth of the St. Lawrence seems to get the worst of the weather, even though the continental weather pattern is from west to east.
To make things more interesting, the U.S./Canada border runs on an agreed line down the middle of the whole chain and makes for some interesting action in the International Joint Committee on the Great Lakes. If the Americans could suck these lakes dry, they would, but it becomes an international thing and if they try the big corporations would jump all over them because Thunder Bay at the top of Lake Superior just happens to be the western most port on the Atlantic Ocean thanks to the St. Lawrence Seaway. This access to ocean traffic makes the lakes vital for sea traffic that reaches the middle of North America.