Ottawa River Designated a Canadian Heritage River

News Release

July 28, 2016                                  Ottawa, Ontario                              Parks Canada Agency

Today, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, designated the Ontario portion of the Ottawa River as a Canadian Heritage River for its outstanding cultural heritage values.

From the head of Lake Timiskaming to East Hawkesbury, 590 km of the Ottawa River bordering the province of Ontario now joins the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). 

The Ottawa River, recognized for its outstanding cultural values, travels through the heart of Algonquin land, and has been used as a thoroughfare and transportation route for millennia. Known as the “original Trans-Canada highway,” the river was invaluable to the economic and political growth of the region during the fur and timber eras and continues to be an essential economic engine today.

Under the federal leadership of Parks Canada, the CHRS is a joint federal-provincial-territorial initiative that gives national recognition to Canadian rivers of extraordinary natural, cultural and recreational significance. It promotes, conserves and enhances Canada's river heritage, helps to ensure that Canada’s leading rivers are managed in a sustainable manner, and encourages the public to enjoy and appreciate them. The Government of Canada is also working with the Government of Quebec to establish recognition of the heritage value of Quebec’s stretch of the Outaouais River as the waterway also has significance for the province’s economic and political growth.


“Our nation’s capital owes its long history and indeed its very existence to this great river. As a vibrant part of Ottawa’s tourism industry today, and the heartland of the Algonquin First Nations, the Ottawa River has a fascinating and diverse history and continues to provide cultural and business opportunities for the communities along its banks. I am thrilled this river is getting the recognition it so rightly deserves.” 

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre


“The Province of Ontario is delighted that the Ottawa River has now fully joined the Canadian Heritage Rivers System. This Canadian Heritage River designation will provide the opportunity for communities both large and small, from Hawkesbury to Haileybury to join together with the Algonquin First Nation in celebration of the Ottawa’s rich cultural heritage and its world class recreational activities.”

The Honourable Kathryn McGarry
Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry


Quick Facts

  • Today, there are 42 Canadian Heritage Rivers (39 designated and another three nominated) across Canada.
  • When a river is designated, a management plan is put in place that describes voluntary actions to promote, celebrate and conserve the river. The designation will provide communities with a platform to promote their region and the incredible history, nature and recreational opportunities associated with the Ottawa River.
  • The Ottawa River travels through the heart of Algonquin land, and has been used for millennia as a transportation and trade route for Indigenous Peoples. Later, it served as a gateway for continental exploration and a premier transportation corridor during the fur and timber eras.
  • The river’s significant water power has been harnessed over the centuries, driving the region’s grist mills and saw mills, and currently producing a significant portion of Ontario’s hydro-electricity.
  • The Canadian Heritage Rivers System is administered by the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board, comprised of members appointed by federal, provincial and territorial governments. Parks Canada represents the Government of Canada on the Board and provides financial and administrative support to the program.

Related Product

Backgrounder: Ottawa River Designated into the Canadian Heritage Rivers System


Associated Links

Canadian Heritage River System

Parks Canada


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Caitlin Workman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

Ontario Natural Resources and Forestry
Emily Kirk
Minister’s office

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