For centuries the Ottawa River waterway has been one of Canada’s major transportation routes.
First traveled by Aboriginal peoples, it became the waterway which opened most of Canada. It was the chosen course first by French explorer Samuel de Champlain and later by the fur traders of the North West Company. By the late 1800’s, it was used to drive massive white pine logs to Bytown (today known as Ottawa — Canada’s capital) and Montreal.
This history has been recently commemorated by a series of heritage kiosks located along its length.
Extending for over 1,200 km (745.2 miles), the river starts far to the northwest at Lake Timiskaming and flows towards Ottawa and joins the St. Lawrence further east in Quebec.
Class III and IV rapids
The Upper Ottawa River boasts Class III and IV rapids, the biggest whitewaters east of the Rockies. During spring flood, the water pounding down the river rivals some of the world’s big-water rivers. In mid-summer, the water level drops, revealing play spots at all sections of the river.
The options vary as much as the water levels, with a range from high-adventure white water rafting to gentle family float trips in summer. The River also offers a variety of interesting canoeing and kayaking excursions suitable for all skill levels.
Other activities available along the River include hiking and cycling. A separate waterway, the Rideau Canal, creates a connection between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario. Provincial parks located along the Ottawa River include Voyageur, Fitzroy Harbour and Driftwood.
- Useful Links:
- Ottawa Valley Tourist Association
- Fitzroy Provincial Park
- Voyageur Provincial Park
- Driftwood Provincial Park
- Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park
- Ottawa River Waterway
- Great Fall Drive: Rideau Heritage Route: Kingston - Ottawa