Canadian Heritage Rivers System

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS; French: Le réseau de rivières du patrimoine canadien) is a joint program administered by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to conserve and protect the best examples of Canada's river heritage, to give them national recognition, and to encourage the public to enjoy and appreciate them.[1] It is a cooperative program of the governments of Canada, nine provinces, and the three territories. A 14-member national board, created under the Parks Canada Agency Act, administers the program and approves the designation of specific rivers.[2]


The Canadian Heritage Rivers System was established in 1984.[3] The first Canadian Heritage River was the French River in Ontario, designated in 1986.[4]

By 1996 there were 29 designated rivers.[2]

Quebec withdrew its participation in 2006.[5] There are currently 39 designated and three nominated rivers; with rivers designated in every province and territory except for Quebec.[6]

Designated rivers

The rivers currently designated as a Canadian Heritage River are:

Alsek RiverYukon1986
Arctic Red RiverNorthwest Territories1993
Athabasca RiverAlberta1989
Bay du Nord RiverNewfoundland2006
Bloodvein RiverManitoba/Ontario1987/1998
Bonnet Plume RiverYukon1998
Boundary WatersOntario1996
Clearwater RiverSaskatchewan/Alberta1987/2004
Cowichan RiverBritish Columbia2003
Detroit RiverOntario/Michigan2001
Fraser RiverBritish Columbia1998
French RiverOntario1986
Grand RiverOntario1994
Hayes RiverManitoba2006
Hillsborough RiverPrince Edward Island1997
Humber RiverOntario1999
Kazan RiverNunavut1990
Kicking Horse RiverAlberta/British Columbia1989
Main RiverNewfoundland2001
Margaree RiverNova Scotia1998
Mattawa RiverOntario1988
Missinaibi RiverOntario2004
North Saskatchewan RiverAlberta/British Columbia1989
Ottawa RiverOntario2016
Red RiverManitoba2007
Rideau WaterwayOntario2000
Saint John RiverNew Brunswick2013
Seal RiverManitoba1992
Shelburne RiverNova Scotia1997
Soper RiverNunavut1992
South Nahanni RiverNorthwest Territories1987
St. Croix RiverNew Brunswick1991
St. Marys RiverOntario2000
Tatshenshini RiverYukon2004
Thames RiverOntario2000
Thelon RiverNunavut1990
The Three RiversPrince Edward Island2004
Upper Restigouche RiverNew Brunswick1998
Yukon River (The Thirty Mile Section)Yukon1991

Nominated rivers

Coppermine RiverNunavut

Quebec participation

Quebec is the only province or territory to not have a designated or nominated river. The province withdrew its participation in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 2006.

Quebec's lack of participation affects nominations and designations for rivers shared with other provinces. In 1998, the New Brunswick portion of the Restigouche River was designated (as "Upper Restigouche"), while the Quebec portion was not. The Ottawa River was nominated in 2007 and designated in 2016, but only the Ontario portion of the river was included. The federal government says it's working with Quebec "to establish recognition of the heritage value of Quebec's stretch of the Outaouais River".[7]

See also


  1. John S. Marsh; Bruce W. Hodgins (15 May 1998). Changing Parks: The History, Future and Cultural Context of Parks and Heritage Landscapes. Dundurn. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-55488-130-7.
  2. Jeffrey A. McNeely (1 November 1995). Expanding Partnerships in Conservation. Island Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-1-59726-907-0.
  3. Max Finkelstein (21 March 2005). Canoeing a Continent: On the Trail of Alexander Mackenzie. Dundurn. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-77070-634-7.
  4. Protected Areas of the World: Nearctic and neotropical. IUCN. 1992. p. 36. ISBN 978-2-8317-0093-9.
  5. "Canadian Heritage Rivers System". The Canadian Encyclopedia
  6. About the Canadian Heritage Rivers System Archived 2013-01-20 at the Wayback Machine on The Canadian Heritage Rivers System
  7. Ottawa River Designated a Canadian Heritage River, Parks Canada news release, July 28, 2016
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