Ottawa Valley Culture

The Ottawa Valley’s Routes and Rivers

Kitche-sippi, La Grande Rivière, The Grand River: are names that the Algonquin First Nations and early French explorers of long ago used to describe the supremacy of the waterway that connected people and riches of the interior. They knew the river was long, that it plunged down from the deep, cold sliver of Lake Temiskaming, that it met a lesser river that led to the shores of Nipissing, and on to the epic inland seas. Only those with the keenest sense of geography and the greatest appreciation for the vastness of the land - Champlain, for one - could have realized that the mighty river has its source deep in the wilderness, far beyond the reaches of human habitation. Today, we know that the Ottawa River Watershed - named for the First Nations traders that made it their highway to the east - is 1,271 kilometres in length and covers an area of 146,300 square kilometres. We know that it is the second longest river in Canada after the St. Lawrence. We know that it begins deep within the province of Quebec and winds its way west through a chain of lakes to Temiskaming before turning south and southeast toward its St. Lawrence confluence. We know that it gave life to the ancient Algonquin tribes that lived on its banks and tributaries - and that it gave birth to a nation's capital.

The Ottawa and its many tributaries flowing out of the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec and the Algonquin Highlands of Ontario, provide thousands of kilometres of rivers, lakes, rapids and wetlands - something for every paddler to explore and enjoy.

Streams and creeks, marshes and wetlands, rivers and lakes, rapids and waterfalls, cliffs and forests are all here for you to experience and enjoy. Wildlife abounds with moose and deer, beavers and bears, eagles and hawks, wolves and waterfowl - all for you to see, photograph and remember.

On today's Ottawa River, the songs of lumberjacks have been replaced by the shouts of thrill-seeking river runners. Birch bark canoes have given way to pleasure boats, cruising the 500 kilometre course of the Temiskawa Waterway. The rocky, brush-strewn footpaths of portaging fur traders have been turned into riverside trails and parks, and the bays and inlets of aboriginal campsites have become waterfront centres and modern marinas.