Flowing through the heart of Ottawa, the Ottawa River often appears as a scenic waterway. Yet, this grand river is a repository of untold stories and concealed treasures.

Discovering lesser-known facts can be quite enlightening:

  1. Algonquin Trade Route: The river’s name derives from the Algonquin word “adawe,” meaning “to trade,” as it served as a vital trade route for Indigenous peoples.

  2. Borderline: The Ottawa River forms a natural border between Ontario and Quebec, dividing the provinces with its vast expanse.

  3. Second Largest: It is the second-largest river in Eastern Canada, boasting a length of over 1,270 kilometers.

  4. Hydroelectric Power: The river’s numerous rapids and waterfalls have been harnessed to generate hydroelectric power, contributing to Ontario’s energy grid.

  5. Chaudière Falls: Once a spectacular natural wonder, these falls were submerged during the construction of hydroelectric dams.

  6. Historical Logging Route: The Ottawa River played a crucial role in the timber industry, with logs floated downstream to sawmills.

  7. Champlain’s Voyage: In 1613, French explorer Samuel de Champlain became the first European to navigate the Ottawa River, opening up new trade routes.

  8. Shipwreck Alley: The treacherous currents and rapids of the river have claimed numerous ships over the centuries, earning it the nickname “Shipwreck Alley.”

  9. Diverse Ecosystems: The river supports a variety of habitats, from rocky shores and sandy beaches to wetlands and forests, providing refuge for numerous plant and animal species.

  10. Recreational Paradise: The Ottawa River offers endless opportunities for outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and camping.

  11. Cultural Corridor: The river valley is home to diverse communities with rich cultural traditions, including Indigenous peoples, Francophones, and Anglophones.

  12. Winter Playground: During the winter months, the frozen river transforms into a snowy landscape, ideal for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.

  13. The Ring of Fire: This mineral-rich region in northern Ontario, partially drained by the Ottawa River, holds vast deposits of chromite, nickel, and copper.

  14. The Ottawa Riverkeeper: This environmental organization is dedicated to protecting the health and future of the river, advocating for conservation and sustainable practices.

  15. A National Treasure: The Ottawa River is a vital natural resource, a historical corridor, and a recreational playground, cherished by Canadians and visitors alike.


The Ottawa River may be a familiar sight, but its hidden treasures and fascinating stories are waiting to be discovered. From its natural wonders to its cultural heritage to its recreational opportunities, the river offers a diverse range of experiences for those seeking adventure and tranquility.

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By Sara LeBlanc

Sara is an author with a keen eye for detail and a talent for crafting compelling narratives. Her writing reflects her curiosity about the world and her passion for sharing stories that resonate with readers on a personal level. When she's not writing on factsaboutcanada.ca, Sara is passionate piano player.

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