Why Was the River Designated?
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the main travel route between Montreal and Lake Winnipeg was the ‘Voyageur Waterway’. This historic route was forged by the fur trade and made European exploration and commerce in western Canada possible. The Boundary Waters Voyageur Waterway segment served as the most reliable route between Lake Superior and the prairies from the first arrival of French traders in the 1730’s until the demise of the fur-trade in the late 1820’s.
Although heavily used by wilderness-seeking recreationists since the turn of the century, the Boundary Waters have maintained their rugged, wild character. Today, the combined attraction of Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and its counterpart, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of the Superior National Forest in neighbouring Minnesota, have earned the waterway its reputation as North America’s premiere, near-urban, wilderness canoe area. To commemorate the outstanding natural and cultural heritage and unparalleled recreational offerings, a, 250 km segment of the waterway was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in June, 1986.