Canada is a nation with a rich river heritage. Our rivers are much more than simple channels draining surface water - they define our very identity. Canadian rivers flow in five major ocean drainage basins: the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Hudson Bay basin, covering approximately 4 million sq. km, is the largest, while the Gulf of Mexico basin is the smallest at 29 500 sq. km. The Atlantic basin has the greatest average discharge at over 1000 cubic kilometres per year.

Our rivers travel through seemingly endless boreal forests, tumble down glacier-carved valleys, link a myriad of lakes and wetlands, and vitalize our cities and towns. They flow through the pages of our history, having nourished the many Native peoples, guided the early explorers and fur traders, and supported the first European settlers.

Rivers continue today to provide us with power, transportation routes and recreation. As our country grows, we increasingly modify and threaten our rivers, and it is important to remind ourselves of their significance and vulnerability. From the enormous Mackenzie to the tiny Hillsborough, Canada's rivers deserve to be cherished and protected.