The chief tributary of the St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River runs a total course of 790 miles (1,270 km). It flows swiftly westward from the Laurentian Plateau of western Quebec to Lake Timiskaming and then southeastward with its course forming the Quebec–Ontario provincial border, and then joins the St. Lawrence west of Montreal.
The river’s diverse ecosystems are home to rich plants such as speckled alder, silky dogwood and sweet gale, and animals including muskellunge, sturgeon, longnose gar, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, walleye, northern pike and American shad.
Contamination of the river with untreated sewage from the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau and water pollution from industrial and urban sources have been major concerns.
Environmental Conservation and Organizations
People have made significant efforts to protect the river. A significant progress has been made on the issues from the city of Ottawa. As part of the Ottawa River Action Plan, the intallation of real-time monitoring and remote-control systems ‘achieved an 80 per cent reduction in combined sewer overflows into the Ottawa’.
Ottawa Riverkeeper, a member organization of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, is working ‘to protect aquatic life and water quality, while ensuring the river remains accessible to the public. It also campaigns on environmental issues and responds to citizen complaints’.
‘The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a federal-provincial-territorial partnership that works to protect rivers of natural, cultural and recreational importance.’ Following the CHRS management plan, in collaboration with other organizations, ‘a section of the Ottawa River is regularly monitored by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’.
Algonquin First Nations is working ‘to protect their traditional lands and wildlife in the region, especially to help restore populations of the American eel to the Ottawa River. (The American eel — or Kichisippi Pimisi — is listed as threatened in Canada and is sacred to the Algonquin.)’
Celebrating Canadian Rivers Day