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Canadian Heritage Rivers System facts for kids

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The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS; French: Le réseau de rivières du patrimoine canadien) is a joint program administered by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to conserve and protect the best examples of Canada's river heritage, to give them national recognition, and to encourage the public to enjoy and appreciate them. It is a cooperative program of the governments of Canada, nine provinces, and the three territories. A 14-member national board, created under the Parks Canada Agency Act, administers the program and approves the designation of specific rivers.


The Canadian Heritage Rivers System was established in 1984. The first Canadian Heritage River was the French River in Ontario, designated in 1986.

By 1996 there were 29 designated rivers.

Quebec withdrew its participation in 2006. There are currently 39 designated and three nominated rivers; with rivers designated in every province and territory except for Quebec.

Designated rivers

The rivers currently designated as a Canadian Heritage River are:

River Province/Territory Year
Alsek River Yukon 1986
Arctic Red River Northwest Territories 1993
Athabasca River Alberta 1989
Bay du Nord River Newfoundland 2006
Bloodvein River Manitoba/Ontario 1987/1998
Bonnet Plume River Yukon 1998
Boundary Waters Ontario 1996
Clearwater River Saskatchewan/Alberta 1987/2004
Cowichan River British Columbia 2003
Detroit River Ontario/Michigan 2001
Fraser River British Columbia 1998
French River Ontario 1986
Grand River Ontario 1994
Hayes River Manitoba 2006
Hillsborough River Prince Edward Island 1997
Humber River Ontario 1999
Kazan River Nunavut 1990
Kicking Horse River Alberta/British Columbia 1989
Main River Newfoundland 2001
Margaree River Nova Scotia 1998
Mattawa River Ontario 1988
Missinaibi River Ontario 2004
North Saskatchewan River Alberta/British Columbia 1989
Ottawa River Ontario 2016
Red River Manitoba 2007
Rideau Waterway Ontario 2000
Saint John River New Brunswick 2013
Seal River Manitoba 1992
Shelburne River Nova Scotia 1997
Soper River Nunavut 1992
South Nahanni River Northwest Territories 1987
St. Croix River New Brunswick 1991
St. Marys River Ontario 2000
Tatshenshini River Yukon 2004
Thames River Ontario 2000
Thelon River Nunavut 1990
The Three Rivers Prince Edward Island 2004
Upper Restigouche River New Brunswick 1998
Yukon River (The Thirty Mile Section) Yukon 1991

Nominated rivers

River Province/Territory Year
Coppermine River Nunavut

Quebec participation

Quebec is the only province or territory to not have a designated or nominated river. The province withdrew its participation in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 2006.

Quebec's lack of participation affects nominations and designations for rivers shared with other provinces. In 1998, the New Brunswick portion of the Restigouche River was designated (as "Upper Restigouche"), while the Quebec portion was not. The Ottawa River was nominated in 2007 and designated in 2016, but only the Ontario portion of the river was included. The federal government says it's working with Quebec "to establish recognition of the heritage value of Quebec's stretch of the Outaouais River".

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