A glance at a satellite image will immediately illustrate that the Ottawa River is one of the great rivers of the continent. The second largest river in eastern Canada, it extends 1271 km (780 miles) with a 140,000 km2 (34,600,000 acres) watershed.
Most of the river is located within the Canadian Shield, the continent-spanning highland underlain by Precambrian age bedrock, that supports hundreds of thousands of lakes and constitutes the world’s greatest concentration of fresh water. This predominantly acidic and erosion-resistant substrate sustains vast areas of forested land, that are essential to the quality and continuity of freshwater production across Canada. From across this globally significant reservoir flow great rivers of immense ecological and economic importance, such as the St. Lawrence, the Saguenay, the Nelson, the Eastmain, the Churchill … and the Ottawa. The volume of water in the Ottawa River is equivalent to the volume of water in all of western Europe.