Mattawa River

Bonfield, Mattawa, North Bay

Parasseux Falls photo by: Chris Mayne


A Bit of History

Stretching between North Bay and the Town of Mattawa on the Quebec border and designated a Canadian Heritage River, the Mattawa is steeped in a long history of Indigenous transportation and trade that dates back 6000 years. The Mattawa River flows into the Ottawa River at the “meeting of the waters” that was a common stop for First Nations including the Hurons, the Nipissings, the Algonkins and the Iroquois.  In the era of the fur trade, the historic waterway was busy with large birch bark freighter canoes used by the voyageurs in search of beaver pelts to trade in Montreal, as they traveled the 2000km journey to Fort William on Lake Superior.

In 1970, the Ontario government protected a substantial portion of the river—from the eastern end of Trout Lake downstream to Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park—by designating it the first waterway park in Ontario. In 1988, the federal government recognized the Mattawa’s national historic significance by naming it a Canadian Heritage River.

Paddle the Mattawa River

The Mattawa River features lake and river travel with several stretches of rapids, an 8m waterfall, and 9-14 portages depending on water levels. Trips can range from 1 to 4 days in length with a number of access points that allow for a great day-trip. The portages are all shorter than 500m. This route is suitable for visitors with limited canoe experience, but highly skilled canoeists will also enjoy shooting some of the rapids. The river is navigable in both directions, though canoe trips generally commence upstream, and flow from west to east.

The Mattawa River is a non-operating provincial park known as the Mattawa River Provincial Park.

Route Type: lake and river travel, backcountry
Route Length: 64km North Bay to Mattawa
No of Portages: 9-14 depending on water levels
Access: multiple access points along the route (see google map)

Length 64km

For More Information

Mattawa River Provincial Park

c/o c/o Samuel de Champlain
P.O. Box 147
6905 Highway 17 East
Mattawa, ON P0H 1VO
(705) 744-2276

Published Route Maps: The Adventure Map Mattawa River – ChrisMar

The vast network of trails we celebrate exist on the traditional lands and waterways of the Anishinaabe people within the territory protected by the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 and Williams Treaties of 1923.