About the site

Water fuels our country. Not only does fresh water sustain the lives of Canadians, but it is critical to the health of the country's biodiversity, supporting life in ecosystems. It is also vital to the nation's economy, with 60 percent of Canada's GDP, by some estimates, directly dependent on water.

Canada currently has its fair share of water, with 20 percent of the planet's fresh water and 6.5 percent of the globe's renewable freshwater supply. But we Canadians use more water per person than any country in the world, other than the United States. In addition, climate change and increasing urbanization promise to further stress Canada's water resources and underscore the importance of adopting sustainable watershed-based management practices at all levels, from the federal government to our own backyards.

What we do on land, in our cities and in our waterways affects Canada's watersheds and concerned Canadians must act now to protect our water heritage for future generations.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic have teamed up with the RBC Blue Water Project, a program to help foster a culture of water stewardship in Canada and abroad, to call Canadians to action in their local watersheds. Through many different elements, this partnership is endeavouring to give people the tools and motivation to play an active role in watershed protection.

This interactive map is an easily accessible user-friendly tool that allows citizens, young and old, to identify the watershed in which they live, become informed on the major issues affecting it, connect to environmental organizations active in their watershed, post their own photos, share their stories and get involved.

The country’s five main drainage basins are identified using Canadian Geographic’s engaging cartography. Users simply click to access more information on a particular basin or type in their closest city or town to be directed to their watershed using Google maps. Almost 600 watersheds are represented on this map, based on the cartographic database used for the “Discover Canada’s Watersheds” print map published in 2006 by Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada. Once at the watershed level, users can view surrounding upstream and downstream watersheds as well as linked information about each watershed and the organizations working within it.

Related themes are listed alongside each watershed, spanning the gamut of issues affecting Canada’s water. Stunning images submitted to The Blue Water Photo Contest illustrate these themes.

In addition to phase one of this interactive map, Canadian Geographic’s June 2011 issue is dedicated to Canada’s water, featuring stories on the Yukon’s Snake River, the Don River that runs through Toronto and more, as well as the “Watersheds of Canada” poster map and a watershed action guide.