Sault Ste Marie Region Conservation Authority

St. Marys River


In 1992, The Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority, the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (SSM District) initiated the process to seek the designation of the St. Marys River as a Canadian Heritage River.

The St. Marys River, 125 km in length, originates in Lake Superior, Whitefish Bay, flows easterly past Sault Ste. Marie and divides into two channels around St. Joseph Island before entering Lake Huron at Bruce Mines and Detour Michigan.

Located in the heart of the Great Lakes system, the St. Marys River plays a significant role as a Canadian Heritage River; it is a hydrological, ecological and international navigational link among three Great Lakes. The St. Marys River stands at the geologic crossroads of North America. Its natural environment includes elements of the major stages and processes that have shaped the northern half of the continent.

The St. Marys River was considered for Canadian Heritage River System (CHRS) designation for its outstanding cultural values and recreational opportunities. As early as 2500 BC, the St. Marys valley became the cultural heart of the Ojibwe peoples. The first European exploration was in the 17th and18th centuries, when the river became the key link in the water route to the west for explorers, fur traders, settlers and the military. The St. Marys River also afforded many year round recreational activities including boating, fishing, camping, heritage appreciation and hiking.

The designation of the St. Marys River as a Canadian Heritage River represents a special chapter in the cultural and historical development associated with Canada’s diverse heritage. Over 9,000km of Canada’s river heritage is commemorated through the CHRS co-operative program for their significant role in representing the country’s natural, cultural and recreational legacy.


Prepared for the CHRS Board in March 2012, the St. Marys River Canadian Heritage River 10 Year Monitoring Report attempts to collect and analyse the events, studies and any improvements or threats to the river for the 10 years after designation.
View Report

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