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Celebrating Our Heritage Rivers

Our shared historical rivers are rich in history and have played a critical role in shaping our culturally unique communities.


The Capital Rivers of Canada and the United States, the Ottawa and the Potomac, are integral to our past, present, and future. Our Capital Rivers are formally recognized for outstanding natural, cultural, and economic heritage.

Rivers are Important to Canada and Canadians and they are a sacred national resource that must be stewarded into the future. The Ottawa River, the newest river designated as a Canadian Heritage River, has played an essential role in building our country. The newest Canadian Heritage River, the Ottawa River is key to the health and well-being of the over 1.7 million people who live within the watershed. Over 1,200 km long, it unites towns, cities, and provinces. With a diverse species of plants, animals, and aquatic life, the river has been a home, a highway, a playground. We size the 150th anniversary of Canada to recognize the importance of our Heritage Capital River and to celebrate it. The Ottawa River has also been designated a lieu historique by the Québec government.

The Potomac River has a rich cultural and natural legacy in the United States. It is renowned for watercraft recreation and is a great cultural and economic asset for the communities. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed and depend on its waters to swim, drink and fish. Approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, the “Nation’s River” has stood witness to trade, development, change, and even injustice. It is the cultural and historic lifeblood of our nation’s capital; it is an American Heritage River.

The Ottawa River:

Canada’s Capital Heritage River

The Potomac River:

America’s Capital Heritage River

In twinning the Capital Rivers of our nations, we celebrate the importance of the rivers in shaping our history, and our shared blessing of abundant freshwater and we honor our responsibility to safeguard this invaluable and irreplaceable resource.

Photo by Duncan Marshall