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Bill Mason Award

Created to recognize individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to canoeing heritage and/or river conservation in Canada, this award was first presented as the Bill Mason National River Conservation Award in 1994 on the 10-year anniversary of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). It was subsequently presented triennially at Canadian river heritage conferences organized in association with the CHRS. As the frequency of these conferences is uncertain, this award is under review in recognition of its significance and profile. It is expected that this review will be completed with a re-launch of the award in 2021.


Past award recipients are:

  • Mr. Kirk Wipper, Founder of the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, Toronto
  • Mr. Bill Reid, Haida Artist and Sculptor, Vancouver
  • Mr. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, Montreal
  • Elder William Commanda, Algonquin Nation of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Maniwaki, Quebec
  • Mr. Hap Wilson, author, wilderness adventurer and artist, Temagami, Ontario
  • Mr. Max Finkelstein, paddler, author and river advocate, Ottawa
  • Mr. Don Gibson, river conservation advocate and long-time National Manager of the CHRS program, Ottawa
  • Professor Bruce and Carol Hodgins, wilderness canoe leaders, educators and operators of Camp Wahnapitae, Peterborough


CHRS Canadian River Stewardship Award

The Canadian River Stewardship Award is presented every three years to up to three passionate individuals and organizations who have made a significant contribution as stewards of a Canadian Heritage River or to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System program as a whole. The award helps us honour the invaluable contributions that these river guardians are making for these rivers and celebrate their role in our past, present and future.



The Canadian River Stewardship Award (formerly National River Conservation Awards of Merit) has been presented by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System since the end of the program’s first decade, when it shifted towards being more community-driven. Nominations and designations of new rivers were increasingly being generated by local citizen groups and communities, and the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board wished to recognize the dedication and hard-work of these individuals and groups. 

Since then, 24 individuals and organizations have been recognized. 

Past Recipients of the Canadian River Stewardship Award

(formerly National River Conservation Awards of Merit)

  • Mr. Gerald Thom, (Posthumously) Cowichan Lake and Stewardship Society, (Cowichan River, British Columbia)
  • Jill Taylor Hollings, (Partnership Team with the Pikangikum, Little Grand Rapids and Lac Seul First Nations), (Bloodvein River, Ontario/Manitoba)
  • Ms. Shaylene Stone, Antler River Guardians of the Four Directions, (First Nations Youth Stewardship), (Thames River, Ontario) 

  • Dr. Cynthia Stacey, St. John River Society, (St. John River, New Brunswick)
  • Mr. Gary Wilkins, Humber Watershed Alliance (Humber River, Ontario)
  • Nathalie Brunet, Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey

  • Lawrence Morris, Adrienne Blattel, Tom Horn, Quebec Labrador Foundation 
  • Don MacNeil, Hillsborough River Association, (Hillsborough River)
  • Larry George, (Cowichan Tribes), Kate Miller (Cowichan Valley Regional District) and Tom Rutherford (British Columbia Conservation Foundation, Living Rivers Trust), (Stotlz Bluff restoration, Cowichan River)

  • Mr. Lem Mayo, Pasadena, Newfoundland, (Main River, Newfoundland)
  • Mr. Len Hopkins, Petawawa, Ontario, (Posthumously) (Ottawa River, Ontario)
  • Mr Jim August, Rivers West, Winnipeg, (Red River, Manitoba)

  • Ms. Louise Towell and Ms. Joan Carne, (Stream of Dreams Project, British Columbia)
  • Mr. Harris Boyd, (Rivers Canada)
  • Dr. Gordon Nelson, (University of Waterloo) 

  • Dr. David Goranson, (Founder, Canadian Rivers Day) 
  • Mr. Cam McNeil, (Rideau Waterway, Ontario)
  • Mr. Mel Fitton, (New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources)

  • Dr. Douglas Bocking, (Thames River, Ontario)
  • Mr.Ted Dykstra, Alberta Environmental Protection (Clearwater River, Alberta)
  • Mr. David Marshall, Fraser Basin Council (Fraser River, British Columbia)

  • Ms. Lynn Noel, Quebec Labrador Foundation, (Editor: “Voyages: Canada’s Heritage Rivers”)
  • Mr. David Balsillie, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, (Grand River, Ontario)
  • Ms. Lee Sochasky, St. Croix International Waterway Commission, (St Croix River, New Brunswick)