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.