Canadian Rivers Day is an annual event, held on the second Sunday in June, to promote public awareness of the importance of preserving the heritage and health of Canada’s rivers. From the Yukon to Prince Edward Island, events are organized to commemorate the cultural, historical, and recreational significance of Canada’s vast and mighty rivers. Celebrations include shoreline cleanups, fish enhancement projects, educational outings, picnics, paddle-a-thons, voyageur canoeing, and taking a nature walk or bicycle ride along a river. This event traces its roots back to the internationally celebrated river conservationist, Mark Angelo, who nearly four decades ago held the first BC Rivers Day.
Calling All River Managers & Stewardship Groups!
This newsletter is brought to you by the Technical Planning Committee (TPC) of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) and is a forum through which heritage river managers and stewardship groups can share success stories and connect across Canada.
Previous volumes of the CHRS newsletter are available on our website.
"The sun came out and the temperature rose just in time for Rivers to Oceans Day (R2O) held in Yellowknife, NWT on June 11th. The annual event aims to teach local students, from kindergarten to grade 5, about water stewardship. Groups of students rotated through 10 educational stations, where they had the opportunity to learn about archaeology and the effects of coast line erosion, a fish biology, and water chemistry. R2O is made possible through partnerships between the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and local organizations such as Ecology North. For more information, please visit: https://www.nwtwaterstewardship.ca/commoutreach"
On July 6, 2019, we invite you to time travel by visiting historic places across Canada. Visit our Heritage Rivers today. Every Place, A Story: choose yours. Click here to read our heritage stories.
Are you a Canadian Heritage River manager or stewardship group? Do you have an event planned for your river? If you answered yes to both of these questions, please contact us at our *NEW* email address, email@example.com and we will repost on our CHRS Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.
The most well known site along Manitoba’s Red River is The Forks, the location where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet that has been a gathering place for thousands of years. In 2018, following a traditional naming ceremony conducted by local elders, the southernmost point of the area was officially named Niizhoziibean, which means two rivers in Ojibway and honours the Indigenous heritage of the area as well as the historical importance of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
Niizhoziibean is currently undergoing a refurbishment, with $1.2 million in improvements underway. This includes the installation of Niimaamaa, the site’s signature sculptural piece, which was created by a team of artists including K.C. Adams, Jamie Isaac, and Val Vint. Niimaamaa, which is recognized as meaning “My mother” by Cree, Ojibwe and Metis speakers, "is a stylized scultpure of a pregnant woman that represents motherhood, Mother Earth and new beginnings". Niimaamaa, gazing toward the horizon between the water and sky, kneels to welcome the sun from the east, while her seven cascading strands of hair remind the viewer of the seven sacred teachings: love, respect, courage, humility, honesty, wisdom and truth. The waterways of the Assiniboine and Red rivers are traced within these strands of hair, and when viewers see their reflection within the highly polished metal of the sculpture they are reminded of their responsibility to protect the earth. To learn more about the meaning of Niimaamaa, visit her in person, or read more at theforks.com/attractions/niimaamaa
This year, the Humber River celebrates the 20th anniversary of its designation as a Canadian Heritage River. In 1999, the Humber River was officially designated under the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) for its historic human heritage and its fundamental contributions to the development of Canada, in addition to its recreational values.
This anniversary is a major milestone and a testament to the dedication of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and community members to celebrating, protecting and restoring the cultural, natural and recreational features of the River. Anniversary celebrations will engage TRCA’s partners, stakeholders and the communities with the Humber watershed and beyond.
Highlights of the 20th Anniversary Celebration Plan include:
Humber River Signature Event:
- Humber by Canoe – September 8th, 2019: TRCA’s annual signature Humber River event celebrating the rich heritage of the Humber River. The event offers free paddling opportunities for the community and provided the chance for first-time canoers to explore the river. The event also has live performances, family activities, urban farm vendors, food trucks, heritage hikes and much more. Details: https://trca.ca/event/humber-by-canoe-2/?instance_id=4583
Watershed Celebration Events:
- Anniversary Launch at McMichael Canadian Art Collection – April 12th, 2019: In partnership with McMichael Canadian Art Collection, TRCA hosted a special event to kick off the 20th anniversary celebrations. The event included special guest speakers sharing their stories about the importance of the river’s designation and inviting everyone to partake in this year’s celebrations. With local Canadian art in the background, the event began with an Indigenous blessing and welcome from Elder Garry Sault from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Speakers at the launch included Her Honour, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Jennifer Innis, Chair of TRCA’s Board of Directors, John Mackenzie, CEO of TRCA, Stephen Lecce, Member of Provincial Parliament for King–Vaughan, and City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Linda Jackson among others.
- Kids Run for Nature – June 15th: In partnership with WWF Canada, the Kids’ Run for Nature is a fun run that empowers kids to get active, fundraise for nature, and help protect the Humber River and wildlife for future generations. Details: https://trca.ca/event/kids-run-nature-brampton/?instance_id=4439
- Black Creek Community Farm Festival – July 20th, 2019: The 7th Annual Black Creek Community Farm Festival takes place at one of the four TRCA urban farms within the Humber River watershed. The event invites the community to experience the farm for themselves and celebrates local food and urban agriculture with fun family activities, fresh organic vegetables and delicious wood fired pizza for purchase. Details: https://yoursay.ca/humber-river/key_dates#14753
- Humber Head Waters Planting – September 21st, 2019: This fall, community members from the City of Richmond Hill are invited to join the TRCA at the Gates of the Humber Parkette to plant native wildflowers at the headwaters of the East Branch of the Humber River. https://yoursay.ca/humber-river/key_dates#14753
- Humber River Mobile Museum: The mobile museum was created through collaboration with Black Creek Pioneer Village and TRCA’s Archaeology department. The archaeological and pioneer artifacts being displayed at this museum help us tell the story of the Humber River and create a visual experience to bridge the past, present, and future of the Humber River. The public is also invited to share their Humber River Stories, either in our legacy bound book, or online at yoursay.ca/humber-river
- Discovery Garden: TRCA and partners are developing a therapeutic and healing landscape at Bolton Camp within the Town of Caledon that will provide space for individuals, promoting mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. The development of the garden will engage Indigenous communities through design and building of garden spaces.
- Humber River Digital Story Map: Launched in partnership with Parks Canada, the Humber River Digital Story Map will be an interactive map online which will include factual information and narrative highlighting various natural, cultural and recreational features within the watershed.
- The hallmark of the Humber River’s designation is the Carrying Place Trail - a historic transportation and trade route that followed the Humber River from Lake Ontario to the Holland Marsh, up towards Lake Simcoe, and eventually to Georgian Bay. It was heavily used by both Indigenous communities and European Settlers.
- The Humber River was the first urban river to be designated under the CHRS and is the only Canadian Heritage River accessible by subway!
- There is archaeological evidence of over 12, 000 years of Indigenous history with over 750 archaeological sites identified across the Humber River watershed.
- Famous Humber River residents include the Eaton family (founders of Eaton’s Department Store), Lucy Maude Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables), Conn Smythe (principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs 1927-1961), and James Henry Fleming (responsible for banding the first wild bird in Canada).
- In 1954, Hurricane Hazel hit Southern Ontario causing many communities to flood due to overflowing rivers, including the Humber River. Altogether, 285 millimeters of rain fell in just 48 hours. The hurricane destroyed 20 bridges, hundreds of homes, took the lives of 81 people and left 4,000 homeless. The devastation led to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) legacy of watershed conservation and flood forecasting and warning.
- There are over 230 kilometres of TRCA Conservation Area trails, and over 16 extensive trail systems (TRCA’s and Partners’) that span the Humber River watershed. These trails cross through diverse regions, such as the Oak Ridge’s Moraine, Niagara Escarpment, Humber Marshes and Black Oak Savannah and provide unique nature experiences for visitors!
- With 1,800 km of waterways and 600 bodies of water including streams, marshes and kettle lakes and with 43 fish species the Humber River is an angler’s dream! In the fall, you will see crowds gathered to witness the fall migration of Atlantic salmon up the Humber River to spawn. These salmon have only recently started to make a comeback in the Humber River after they were locally extinct due to habitat degradation and barriers to migration.
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario and acts as the Humber River manager for CHRS. Established under the Conservation Authorities Act, TRCA’s mission is to protect, conserve and restore natural resources and develop resilient communities through education, the application of science, community engagement, service excellence and collaboration with our partners. TRCA’s jurisdiction includes 3,467 kilometres including nine watersheds and the Lake Ontario Waterfront.
The Humber River watershed is the largest watershed in the TRCA’s jurisdiction at 911 km2. The main branch of the river flows 126 km from its source on the Niagara Escarpment, down to Lake Ontario and home to over 931,000 people.
Since 1999, TRCA has worked with municipal and community partners, watershed residents and Indigenous communities on several CHRS-inspired or supported initiatives that protect, restore and celebrate the Humber River. Some of the accomplishments include:
- Detailed Watershed Plans for the Humber River Watershed;
- An award-winning Humber River Heritage Bridge Inventory;
- The launch of the Shared Path Program;
- Humber by Canoe – a signature annual event encouraging heritage celebration and water-based recreation;
- Community-lead heritage event support; and
- Community-based restoration initiatives.
TRCA’s strong commitment to community engagement and the protection and enhancement of natural spaces ensures the Humber River is cared for and regularly celebrated across the region.