Chaplin is situated on the Trans-Canada Highway between Moose Jaw and Swift Current, and on the north edge of Chaplin Lake. The lake encompasses nearly 20 square miles (52 km2) and is the second largest saline water body in Canada. The area is noted from the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) for its shorebirds. Chaplin Lake was designated a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network site in May 1997. This is the highest designation that a reserve can receive and there are only 35 sites recognized in the Western Hemisphere (only 5 of them being in Canada).
Shorebird surveys conducted by the Saskatchewan Wetlands Conservation Corporation and Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service revealed that over 30 species, with a peak count of 67,000 birds in a day, use the lake. More than 50,000 sanderlings, or about 25-50% of their hemispheric population, were counted in a single day in and around Chaplin Lake. This area is also one of the top four breeding areas in Saskatchewan for the piping plover, an endangered species whose principal breeding area is in Saskatchewan.
As well as being the home for shorebirds, the main business of Chaplin also uses the sodium sulphate deposits of Chaplin Lake. Saskatchewan Minerals, a private company, harvests the sodium sulphate through an evaporation method; large salt deposits are visible from the Trans-Canada Highway. Additionally, Artemia Canada, a seasonal company, catches and packages the brine shrimp that thrive in the salt water of Chaplin Lake. Both of these industries support the needs of shorebirds by ensuring an adequate supply of water in the spring and summer.