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Canada’s 40 Heritage Rivers are recognized nationally for their outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational heritage. These rivers are an important part of Canada’s rich heritage, and shape who we are as a nation.

Once rivers are designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, they become part of a network of waterways that are cared for by passionate river stewards. Governments, local communities, conservation authorities and local citizens come together with the overarching goal of celebrating, conserving and protecting designated rivers.


A Painted Turtle catching some sun, sitting on a log in a marsh area of the Rideau Canal.

What Are the Benefits of a Heritage Designation?

A pastoral scene of the Grand River's shallow waters.

Being a part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System means an opportunity to: 

  • foster cooperative river management that unites communities;
  • celebrate and support the cultural connections of Indigenous Peoples with rivers;
  • tell the stories of our nation, building sense of identity and pride;
  • stimulate adventure travel and sustainable tourism;
  • help Canadians connect to history, nature and cultural traditions;
  • promote stewardship and citizen engagement;
  • engage new Canadians and youth in river education, conservation, and recreation;
  • encourage the protection of water resources to improve public health, well-being, and quality of life.

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System informs, inspires and encourages Canadians to connect with the country’s river heritage and share in its safe-keeping. Our heritage rivers are integral to the health, well-being, and identity of Canada’s current and future generations.