General Description

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The Hillsborough River arises from groundwater springs in the centre of Prince Edward Island and flows southwest for 45 km to its mouth at the Northumberland Strait in the Atlantic Ocean. The river system is the largest on the island - its 350 sq. km drainage area is equal to one- fifteenth of the total island land mass. The landscape around the Hillsborough is flat or gently rolling, with the highest point in the watershed at only 75 m.

In many ways the Hillsborough River, deemed PEI's passageway to the sea, is symbolic of the island itself. Its character derives from the island's rich agricultural heritage and the inescapable presence of the sea. Over half of the river's length is ocean estuary where freshwater and saltwater mix to create a rich marshland habitat for a variety of fish and waterfowl species. For three-quarters of its length, the level of the Hillsborough rises and falls under the influence of the ocean tides. The river does not empty directly into the sea but rather gives way gradually to the saltwater of Charlottetown Harbour.