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)
For More Information
c/o c/o Samuel de Champlain
P.O. Box 147
6905 Highway 17 East
Mattawa, ON P0H 1VO
Published Route Maps: The Adventure Map Mattawa River – ChrisMar