Photostory #465A: Main Flow for 56,390 Square Miles: The Ottawa River

Ted Grant , John Ough , V. K. Anthony
National Film Board of Canada
Release Date
March 30, 1968
CMCP fonds
Credit Line
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Main Text
Deep within the wooded wilderness of Quebec, 160 miles north of Ottawa as the wild geese fly, the river of the same name has its beginnings. Here, remote logging camps are but islands amid the rolling hills where moose, wolves and bear stalk the young river's banks in the early morning mists. Twisting and turning through the forest, forming fish-filled lakes, collecting the clear waters from a wide unspoilt catchment area, the river flows westwards for four degrees of longitude. Then, at Lake Timiskaming, the river turns south awhile, then ever more towards the east, its course forming the Quebec-Ontario provincial border for nearly the remainder of its total 700-mile journey. Past Mattawa, Deep River, Pembroke, Arnprior, Quyon and Aylmer it flows in broad, mile-wide sweeps, lazily loiters around placid bays and scurries over foaming rapids. Then under the bridges between Hull and Ottawa it hurries until, with the weight of a dozen major tributaries behind it, the river can bore steadily along its home stretch, past Hawkesbury and Oka to Montreal Island, to merge with the busy St. Lawrence and make for the sea. Along its length the river dispenses its blessings on the people of the valley. Struggling at times to bear its time-honored burden of floating logs to the mills downstream, impeded at intervals by dams and spillways, the river nevertheless strives to keep faith with the world it serves. Shorebirds and waterfowl mass in profusion along its weedbeds and sandy shores and fish, sometimes of great size, feed royally on its myriads of minnows. Its constant presence acts as a national centrepiece during the passing seasons. For Canadians who live within its valley it is a quiet avenue for sailing in boats, for swimming during parched summer months, for observing wildlife, for resting the eyes and senses. The Ottawa River, not among the nation's major waterways in extent or commercial importance, has its own vital worth to large, diverse areas of southern Canada. Its intrinsic value as a beautiful river is an irreplaceable assurance of well-planned development to come in the region's promising future.