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The Canadian River Heritage Award



In the foreground, a red canoe sits along the rocky shoreline of Hairy Lake. Many reeds and bulrushes are visible on the lake.

The Canadian River Heritage Award is offered by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in partnership with the Canadian Canoe Museum. The award recognizes the invaluable efforts of an individual Canadian to celebrate, protect and conserve river heritage for future generations. 

If you know of a river champion who has positively contributed to Canada's river heritage, and has had a profound and lasting influence on communities and their heritage, please submit a nomination.   

Nominations can be submitted in English, French, or any Indigenous language spoken in Canada. If necessary, nominations will be translated to support a review by the nominating committee. 

Nominations are open until July 2, 2024.

Guidelines and Procedures

Award Timeline
  • April: Call for nominations
  • July: Nomination period closed


History of the award 

First presented in 1994 as the Bill Mason National River Conservation Award, The Canadian River Heritage Award honours an individual who has significantly contributed to river heritage in Canada on a scale large enough to be considered as a lifetime achievement. 

The CHRS Board is pleased to collaborate with the Canadian Canoe Museum (CCM) to profile this prestigious award in a fitting way and place – by housing it in the Canadian Canoe Museum and working together to promote and honour those nominated for their contributions to Canada’s river heritage. 

Record of Award Recipients

Year Recipient(s)
1994 Mr. Kirk Wipper, Founder of the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, Toronto
1998 Mr. Bill Reid, Haida Artist and Sculptor, Vancouver
2001 Mr. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, Montreal
2004 Elder William Commanda, Algonquin Nation of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Maniwaki, Quebec
2007 Mr. Hap Wilson, author, wilderness adventurer and artist, Temagami, Ontario
2009 Mr. Max Finkelstein, paddler, author and river advocate, Ottawa
2013 Mr. Don Gibson, river conservation advocate and long-time National Manager of the CHRS program, Ottawa
2016 Professor Bruce and Carol Hodgins, wilderness canoe leaders, educators and operators of Camp Wahnapitae, Peterborough
2021 Bobbi Rose Koe, advocate for youth, river conservationist, watershed protector, Yukon