Rivers course through every nook of Canada and through our collective history. First Nations, then Europeans, built their homes along their banks and depended on them for food and trade. Explorers and fur traders navigated them, continually pushing back the frontiers of the country, northward and westward. Rivers played a pivotal role in linking the far-flung regions of the country, turning a sweeping wilderness into a nation.
Geologically speaking, most Canadian rivers are young, having developed since the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. Nearly half of the total flow of our rivers drains northward into the Arctic Ocean or into Hudson and James bays. These waterways sustain entire ecosystems and power industries. Many have been dammed or diverted.
Journey down some of Canada’s greatest rivers. Each one profiled here represents one of the six natural regions of Canada (Arctic and Taiga, Pacific and Western Mountains, Central Plains, Boreal Shield, Mixedwood Plains and Atlantic Region).