Why Was the River Designated?
The Thames River’s rich cultural heritage and diverse recreational opportunities formed the basis for its designation to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 2000. The designation includes the 273 km river and its entire watershed, which drains 5285 km2 of land, making it the second largest watershed in southwestern Ontario.
The cultural heritage of this river includes ongoing occupancy by First Nations for over 11,000 years, with a multitude of archaeological sites located along the waterway. The Thames also has a rich history of European exploration and settlement that dates back to the 17th century, encompassing the fur trade, British exploration and early settlement, military battles, and intensive agricultural and urban settlement.