Great Canadian Rivers

In Canada, rivers are inextricably linked to the past, and to the country's identity. Each program follows the course of a great river providing a window into the vastness and diversity of the Canadian landscape and a view of both the natural and cultural heritage of Canada.

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  • The Columbia
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    March 27, 2004

    The 2000 km-long Columbia is the most dammed river and has the longest stretch of undisturbed wetlands in North America. This vast maze of ever-changing ponds, streams, and channels is a nursery for millions of birds and diverse wildlife species. Its complex path begins in southeastern British Columbia, and courses through interior desert, wet forest, and mountain range before crossing the US border 800 kilometres from its source. A large-scale effort is underway to restore the Columbia's diverse ecosystems. The river will be forever linked to the great navigator David Thompson, the first person to navigate the river's entire length.

  • The Miramichi
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    March 20, 2004

    The vibrant Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and Irish cultures come together to form a rich historical tradition. Historic fishing lodges and a long-standing guiding tradition draw visitors from around the world. The two branches of the 220-km Miramichi begin in the wooded highlands of New Brunswick and the river makes its way seaward to empty into the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Miramichi Bay.

  • The Klinaklini
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    March 13, 2004

    The 195-km Klinaklini River contains a stunning range of life zones within its watershed and is one of the few rivers in British Columbia that cuts right through the coastal mountains. Towering above the Klinaklini river at an elevation of over 4,000 metres, Mount Waddington is the highest peak in the coastal range of BC. The rich mix of habitats and the prolific annual salmon run attract the highest concentration of grizzly bears in B.C. to its estuary.

  • The North Saskatchewan
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    March 6, 2004

    At the source of the river atop the massive Columbia Icefield, the Saskatchewan glacier is a spectacular natural jewel. Along its course, it crosses an ecological treasure known as the Kootenay Plains and the imposing reservoir of Abraham Lake. At Fort Edmonton, it marks the presence of one of the oldest historic sites in western Canada. And in the city of Edmonton, extensive parklands flank the river's length. The river crosses the prairies and the ghost town of Heinsburg until it meets its sister tributary at a place known as the Forks.

  • The Saint John
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    February 28, 2004

    The Saint John River, named by Champlain when he first saw it on St-Jean Baptiste day in 1604, flows from Maine to Saint John, NB, and forms part of the U.S.-Canadian border.

  • The Grass
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    February 21, 2004

    The Grass River flows through the Canadian Shield northeast from the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border to the Nelson River.

  • The Ottawa
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    February 14, 2004

    Noted and used by Champlain, the Ottawa River runs through the Great Rift Valley between Quebec and Ontario.

  • The Kicking Horse
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    February 7, 2004

    Named by surveyor-geologist James Hector after he suffered a near-fatal kick from his packhorse, British Columbia's Kicking Horse River descends swiftly from the icefields of the Canadian Rockies, slows briefly in a broad, U-shaped valley, then plunges wildly to its Columbia River confluence. An ecological, recreational, and historical jewel, it flows untamed and unobstructed through some of Canada's most spectacular mountain terrain.

  • The Three Rivers
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    January 31, 2004

    The Three Rivers watershed consists of the Montague/Valleyfield, Brudenell and Cardigan rivers in eastern Prince Edward Island. Each finger-like corridor begins as a trickle and flows southeasterly, gaining momentum as it empties into Cardigan Bay, once a major shipbuilding centre and now with a thriving mussel fishery. The freshwater basins and tidal estuaries create a blend of habitats where shorebirds flourish.

  • The Moisie
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    January 24, 2004

    The Moisie River is known mostly to experienced canoeists and wealthy sport fishers. It rises in Labrador's Lake Opacopa and flows 410 kilometres south across Quebec's breathtaking Cote Nord to meet the St. Lawrence River. The Moisie's Valley is steep, rugged and deep and is lined with untouched stands of spruce, fir, birch and aspen. The river's volume and discharge is remarkable for its size, and its beats are characterized by falls, rapids and pools replete with holding salmon. Some of the largest Atlantic salmon on record have been caught here.