The Ottawa River Waterway

The Ottawa River Waterway has something for everyone. Extending for over 1200km, the river starts far to the northwest at Lake Timiskaming and flows towards Ottawa and joins the St. Lawrence at Montreal. Boaters traveling from the St. Lawrence can navigate the Ottawa River to Ottawa and then enter the Rideau Waterway.

From the excitement of whitewater rafting, to the unique experience of "wilderness boating" to the serenity of sheltered coves, the Ottawa River Waterway offers visitors a range of water and land based activity.

The waterway can be divided into three regions beginning in the north with the Upper Ottawa River, Ottawa & Canada's Capital Region and the Lower Ottawa River which extends to the Quebec border in the southeast.

Natural Assets

Boating on the Temiskawa Waterway

Open since 1993, this new recreation waterway in the Upper Ottawa River region offers boaters almost 500km of charted routes flowing past mountains, waterfalls and sandy beaches. Stretching from Fitzroy Harbour in the south, to Notre-Dame-du-Fort above New Liskeard, the Temiskawa Waterway and its shoreline are home to an abundance of wildlife including moose, deer and bald eagle.

Boaters can nose into sheltered coves for a shore lunch and a swim, or anchor out overnight for a truly peaceful night's sleep. For the less adventurous, cruise from marina to marina and enjoy all the local flavor. Wilderness minded boaters and those with smaller vessels can pitch a tent on the shore or venture inland to a public or private campground.

The Temiskawa Waterway's unique marine hydraulic trailers are utilized to move boats around the various obstructions on the waterway (i.e. dams and white water and rapids). These state-of-the-art hydraulic trailers can handle all sizes of powerboats up to 30 feet in length and 15,000-lb. displacement. Pontoon boats up to 28 feet can also be trailered, with the exception of houseboats. Due to trailer design and overhead clearance, only trailerable sailboats equipped with retractable centerboards and quick stepping masts may be accommodated. Passes may be purchased for a single lift, or season.

White Water Rafting, Kayaking and Canoeing

White water raftingThe Upper Ottawa River has everything a paddler could hope for: warm water, two channels, and dozens of different rapids containing more than 13 different play spots, all in the course of approximately 16 kilometres. Two different white-water runs in one day are not uncommon. Water levels on the Ottawa River vary greatly which is part of the river's appeal. During spring flood, the water pounding down the Ottawa River can rival some of the world's big-water rivers. In mid-summer, the water level drops, revealing play spots at all sections of the river. Paddling season runs from May to late fall. Water temperatures on the Ottawa River vary depending on the season. In spring, the massive quantities of water caused by melting snow are bitterly cold. By early June the water temperature rises to comfortable levels, and by August it is almost tropical!

While high-adventure rafting appeals to some, others can choose from a variety of gentle and family float trip packages. Several operators -- most located near the aptly-named hamlet of Beachburg -- offer first-class equipment, professional guides and après-rafting activities.

The Ottawa River also offers a variety of interesting paddling excursions suitable for various skill levels. Experience the rugged beauty, swirling rapids, steep rock cliffs and brilliant wildlife, both along the River and its many tributaries.


Explore the waterway on foot and experience the hamlets, towns and cities, along scenic country roads and under the canopy of old growth forests. Hiking trails ranging from 1km to 11km in length extend along the waterway and offer experiences ranging from leisurely to challenging in pace.


The Ottawa River Corridor offers excellent cycling opportunities for the beginner and the sports enthusiast. Whether you are looking for a paved road with little traffic, or a mountain bike trail that takes you to nowhere and back, you can find it all here. Some trails are suitable for a family outing while others are challenging enough for the most adventurous cyclist. In Ottawa, you can cycle along over 150 kilometres of recreational pathways that run along rivers and through parks.


The area surrounding the Ottawa River contains numerous inland waterways and tributaries, which are excellent for the avid angler. Bass, Pickerel, Trout and Muskie are common.

Along the Way

Ottawa, Canada's Capital Region

This region encompasses 4,715 square kilometres of river valley, mountains, wetlands and fields and stretches out on both sides of the Ottawa River to include Gatineau to the north in Quebec and Ottawa to the south in Ontario.

Bicycle, hike or in-line skate along over 150 kilometres of recreational pathways that run along rivers, through parks and lead to most major attractions. Experience a variety of outdoor experiences, many within 15 minutes of downtown. Skate on the Rideau Canal, the world's longest skating rink, and experience Winterlude, or play at over 60 golf courses in the region. Or visit a national treasure including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery and Parliament Hill. Take a double-decker trolley tour, see the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill or experience an exciting festival. There is something for everyone in this world-class destination.

The Upper Ottawa River

But, a visit to this area would be incomplete without a stop at the many other heritage communities which lay along its shore. In addition to Ottawa, Matawa, Deep River, Petawawa, Chalk River, Pembroke, and Arnprior are all along the route. This area is especially renowned for spectacular fall colours which make its already picturesque vistas absolutely magnificent.

Visitors will marvel at Bonnechere Caves. Lying under a hill of limestone, said by geologists to have been the bottom of a tropical sea 500 million years ago, the Caves present a weird and entrancing sight.

The Lower Ottawa River

The region known as the Lower Ottawa Valley and encompassing the communities of Rockland, L'Orignal, Alfred and Hawkesbury offers the visitor a wealth of agricultural experiences. Tour an apple orchard, see how maple syrup is made, learn about Belgium Blue Beef or see a fish or pheasant farm - its all here awaiting your discovery.

The Voyageur Provincial Park is located on the Ottawa River immediately west of the Carillon Dam. The marsh area is home to a rich variety of birds, animals and plants. The park offers camping, water-based recreational activities and cross country skiing on groomed trails.

For more than 100 years, the St-Albert Cheese Factory has been producing quality cheeses which are famous throughout Eastern Ontario. Guided tours are offered.

The Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, located 20 minutes east of Ottawa, portrays the ways in which industrialization and mechanization changed the way of life of the Lower Ottawa Valley rural community between 1890 and 1932. The village has over 25 heritage buildings.


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