Why We Love Rivers

This Sunday is World Rivers Day, a celebration of world waterways. It’s a day to get out and enjoy your local river, learn how you can be a good water steward in your community and celebrate the wealth of rivers we have here in Canada.
WWF has big goals for Canada’s rivers and other waterways. Our Freshwater Team is working to ensure that all of Canada’s waters are in good condition by 2025. And when we’re not hard at work, we love spending time outdoors connecting with our rivers across the country.   Here are some of the reasons why we love our rivers and will be celebrating World Rivers Day!

Rapids on the Coulonge River, Quebec, Canada
A hiker resting on the rocks beside rapids on the Coulonge River, in the boreal forest near Réserve faunique, La Vérendrye, Quebec. © Tim Irvin / WWF-Canada

I’ve lived and worked across Canada.  I was born in BC, lived in New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, worked on the shores of Lake Superior, Lake Ontario, the Athabasca and St. Lawrence Rivers, the oceans and so many others.   For all our diversity, Canada’s rivers and waters is what binds us.  Our rivers are the essence of our cultural, environmental and economic heritage. From First Nations canoe routes and our historical logging and fishing industries to the St. Lawrence River “seaway” and our last globally remaining wild salmon rivers.   I love Canada’s diversity and I’m committed to protecting and conserving our history and future through our rivers health and wealth – Elizabeth Hendriks, WWF Freshwater Director 
One of the worst things you can say to someone in rural Canada is ‘the well is broken’. This is one of the most significant events that can happen in a household of four teenagers. I’ll never forget the cold, dark night my Dad and I hauled a hundred feet of ice-cold pipe to get at the pump. One doesn’t forget family evenings like that, so our daily reliance on water is top of mind on World Rivers Day this year. Especially here in BC, where our new Water Sustainability Act will regulate groundwater for the first time in BC’s history. – James Casey, Freshwater Conservation Analyst
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sterning a canoe down a set of rapids. The tug of moving water against your paddle, the weight of canoe pulling to move downstream, and the spray of whitewater on your face. There’s an excitement in paddling along a river that sticks with you. Still today, some of my fondest memories are from leading canoe trips through rivers and lakes in northern Ontario. On World Rivers Day, I will be reminded of the privilege that we in Canada have to enjoy the wilderness of these places, and why here at WWF-Canada we’re working to conserve freshwater ecosystems across the country. –  James Snider, Conservation Science Specialist
Best birthday present ever? A handcrafted paddle from my father. Best trip ever? Paddling a 300-kilometre white water stretch of the Churchill River, known by locals as the Grand River, Labrador. From exploring 100-year-old trapper cabins to listening to Metis stories around the campfire passed down through the generations, I experienced firsthand how Canada’s rivers are living museums, as well as, living ecosystems. On World Rivers Day, I’ll be thinking of my next dream trip down B.C.’s Skeena River. This iconic, wild salmon river is one of the many watersheds WWF is assessing to ensure healthy waters flow into the future for generations to come. – Jo Anne Walton, Freshwater Communications Specialist
Some of my earliest memories as a child are of canoeing and camping trips with the family.  It was a time of discover and exploration – of the natural world and of myself.  I continue to paddle whenever the opportunity presents itself.  And, thanks to WWF’s Freshwater Health Assessment, I and many others, have a better understanding of the health of the rivers we spend time on, and sometimes in!  We are truly fortunate to have a national, and sometimes personal identity, that is intertwined with our rivers (and lakes) and I encourage you all to get out on the water on World Rivers Day. – Simon Mitchell, St. John River Advisor, Living Rivers Intiative 
Living in Canada’s most populated city doesn’t always afford you opportunities to connect with nature. That is, unless you go for a paddle on the Humber River. One of my favourite memories is of a kayak trip my sister and I took down the Humber River at sunset. We totally forgot we were in the city as we viewed tons of wildlife and not one single car. It was heavenly, and right at Toronto’s doorstep! On World Rivers Day this year, I’ll be thinking about how lucky I am to live in a country where our urban rivers are clean enough to enjoy. – Heather Crochetiere, Freshwater Coordinator
Heather Kayaking © Heather Crochetiere
Heather Kayaking © Steph Morgan

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Of water, in this case. I grew up in the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East where most of the land is uninhabitable desert. There are no permanent rivers and drinking water is primarily supplied from desalinated seawater. Rain dances have not been unheard of during particularly dry spells which can last up to several years. On World Rivers Day, I will be thinking about how grateful I am for Canada’s myriad lakes and rivers and bountiful supply of clean and healthy freshwater –considered a luxury in so, so many other countries around the world. – Sharlene Shaikh, Pacific Conservation Research Assistant
Canada is a water-rich country, so it’s not hard to remember how fortunate we are to have so much of this precious resource.  But for me, what really triggers my appreciation for water is spending time at the family cottage on the shores of Wolfe Lake near Kingston Ontario (ok, so it’s not a river, but water’s water, let’s celebrate it!). Some of my best memories and earliest adventures are rooted there – trying unsuccessfully to sell a bucket of locally caught crayfish at the age of 10 to a nearby restaurant is a good one that comes to mind.  Clearly I was ahead of my time with the local food movement. – Eric Mysak, Freshwater Conservation Adviser
What will you be celebrating on World River’s Day? Find an event near you here.