Toggle search bar

WxT Language switcher

CHRS Newsletter - Fall 2017


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.

Introducing Mandy McCarthy–CHRS Secretariat

Mandy McCarthy–CHRS Secretariat

I joined the CHRS Secretariat at Parks Canada in April 2017 as the Director of Heritage Designations and Programs, but have been with the federal public service for just over ten years. Previously I worked at Indigenous and Northern Affairs as a Senior Advisor in Strategic Policy. One of my principle files was coordinating and crafting the federal government's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. However, I have spent most of my career at the Canadian Heritage managing grants and contributions programs supporting Indigenous languages and cultures and representing the federal government in Indigenous land claims and self-government agreement negotiations. These positions have allowed me to gain extensive experience in policy development, grants and contribution project management, and intergovernmental relations.

I have degrees in History/Native Studies, Museum Management and Legal Anthropology and am happy that my new position leading the CHRS Secretariat will allow me to utilize the skills I have developed in previous positions and to continue my learning in an area of great interest to me.

Eau Canada! Video

Paddlers on the Fraser River in British Columbia sing O Canada.
Paddlers on the Fraser River in British Columbia sing O Canada.

Canadian Rivers Day was commemorated on Sunday, June 11. To kick off the CHRS Canada 150 Project, we released our video: Eau Canada! It featured 14 river partners from across our country each singing a line from O Canada in French or English.

The breathtaking scenery and joyful singing of our anthem makes your heart swell with pride. A big thank you to all who participated in its making and to Terry Kelly Productions for the fabulous job putting it all together.

CHRS Celebrates Canada’s 150th!

The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage arriving in Montreal, Quebec.
The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage arriving in Montreal, Quebec.

There was a lot of activity this summer on Canadian Heritage Rivers across Canada to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday! Funding was provided for 36 river-based public events and activities on 33 Canadian Heritage Rivers through the CHRS Canada 150 Project. This was a great opportunity to highlight how rivers are a sacred national resource that must be looked after, now and into the future.

Molly Demma, Executive Director of the St. John River Society and national project director, described the video as: "a love letter to Canadians from their rivers that reminds us of the importance of rivers to our past, present and future.” It could not have been possible without Molly’s passion and drive for the project – so a big shout out to her as well!!

Parks Canada and the National Capital Commission partnered to air the video every night on Parliament Hill from July to September, prior to the Northern Lights show. It was seen by an estimated 200,000 Canadians. 

Check out the Eau Canada! video and feel the pride and passion for our Canadian Heritage Rivers!

“I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.”
―John O’Donohue 

Canada 150 Events and Activities on Canadian Heritage Rivers

Financial support for the CHRS Canada 150 Project was provided through the Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Fund. The goal of the fund was to create opportunities for Canadians to participate in local, regional, and national celebrations that contribute to building a sense of pride and attachment to Canada. The fund had four overarching themes; here are some examples of events that fell under each theme:

1. Our Environment

Rivers are an intrinsic part of our natural environment, acting as barometers for broader environmental conditions. A September 4 community event on the Clearwater River in Fort McMurray demonstrated the importance of environmental stewardship, as tree seedlings purchased from Tree Canada were planted along river banks that were impacted by the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.

2. Towards Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Reconciliation

The ambitious Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage saw 30 intrepid paddlers follow an 850-km route, used historically by Indigenous people and fur traders, from Midland, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. Organized by the Jesuit Priests of Canada, the month-long journey on the French and Mattawa rivers brought Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth together in the spirit of reconciliation to learn about one an other’s perspectives, history and culture. There was a lot of cover age about this wonderful journey including this piece from CBC.

3. Diversity and Inclusion

Recognized as a symbol of our national identity, and for the diverse roles it has played in our history, geography and culture; the canoe continues to provide scores of Canadians with the opportunity to connect with their rivers, through public paddles this summer on the Detroit (Ontario), Humber (Ontario), Fraser (British Columbia), Restigouche (New Brunswick), St. Croix (New Brunswick) and Red (Manitoba) rivers, to name a few.

4. Youth

For the Bloodvein First Nation in Manitoba, two days of community paddling on the Bloodvein River using traditional watercraft was a way to enable a cultural exchange between youth and Elders. Elders still live connected to the land and the river in a very traditional way and, through this community event, were able to pass on their knowledge to the Bloodvein youth, fostering a deeper appreciation of their culture and traditions and continuity of Indigenous knowledge.

The current strategic plan identifies four priority areas for the CHRS program:

Priority 1: Build a comprehensive and representative system that recognizes Canada’s river heritage.

Priority 2: Conserve the natural, cultural and recreational values and integrity of designated Canadian Heritage Rivers.

Priority 3: Engage communities and partners to maximize the full range of benefits associated with the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program.

Priority 4: Foster excellence in river management.

CHRS Strategic Plan Renewal

It’s time to update the ten year strategic plan for the CHRS. We are interested in your thoughts on the future direction of the program.

As the program has matured, there have been fewer nominations to the system. The focus of the program has shifted from designation to strengthening the existing system – focusing on river management and monitoring, raising awareness of the system and its benefits, and promoting community stewardship.

A mid-term assessment of the strategic plan a few years ago showed that the plan continues to provide useful structure and direction for the program. It is envisioned that much of the current plan will be carried over into the renewed version, but some adjustments will be required to account for new challenges and opportunities facing the CHRS.

Valuable feedback regarding the strategic plan was gathered through a River Managers Forum at the River Heritage Conference in October 2016. The CHRS hosted a second opportunity to provide input on the long-term direction of the program through a river manager webinar on September 14, 2017. Topics for the webinar included:

  • challenges and opportunities in relation to the CHRS
  • factors that may influence the CHRS and/or your river and organization in the next ten years
  • strategies to make the renewed plan more relevant and useful
Visitors reading the Athabasca Canadian Heritage River designation plaque in Jasper National Park, Alberta.
Visitors reading the Athabasca Canadian Heritage River designation plaque in Jasper National Park, Alberta.

The TPC and CHRS Board were very pleased with river manager participation in the webinar and look forward to hosting more webinars on other topics in the future.

If you would like to learn more about the strategic planning process or share your thoughts on the future direction of the CHRS, please contact Ashleigh Hall, Park Planner with Manitoba Sustainable Development, at or 204-797-4016.

CHRS Story Maps Project

The CHRS is working on a new initiative to develop story maps for each of our 42 Canadian Heritage Rivers. A story map is a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform developed by ESRI that allows users to combine maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. Story maps make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story.

The main goal of this story map project is to create a one-stop-shopping experience for people who wish to learn more about a river or plan a visit. Some advantages of story maps over conventional web content are:

  • Interactive = more engaging, for river experts and the public alike
  • Better able to communicate the natural, cultural and recreational values for which rivers are designated

The maps will be hosted on ArcGIS Online, leveraging the "map it once" approach with automatic updates every three months to ensure the highest level of accuracy. Funding is available to assist river managers in developing web content for their story map. For more information about this initiative, please contact

Snapshot of a story map under development for the Ottawa River.
Snapshot of a story map under development for the Ottawa River.