How Deep is the Ottawa River?

One of the great rivers of the continent of North America, the Ottawa flows 780 miles (1,271 km) through Canada. The majority of the border between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario is formed by this river, which rises in the western province of Quebec. The river empties out just west of Montreal at its confluence with the Saint Lawrence River. We shall discover more about this powerful body of water today. The river plays a significant role in the lives of numerous communities and natural areas throughout its course. What is the Ottawa River’s depth? What kind of fauna lives here beside this river? All of that and more will become clear as we proceed further.

How Deep is the Ottawa River?

In actuality, the Ottawa River is the deepest river in both Canada and North America. The highest depth of this amazing river is 318 feet. It now ranks among the “Ten Deepest Rivers in the World” as a result. Between Greece’s Point and Chute-à-Blondeau in Quebec, Canada, is our reference maximum depth point. Slightly more than a mile separates this location from the Carillion Hydroelectric Facility. The Ottawa River is home to numerous artificial lakes and reservoirs, the deepest of which is found at the Carillion Reservoir.

There is some disagreement on this river’s lowest point. Although it is generally accepted that the deepest point is 318 feet, we will nevertheless present our competitors for the title of “Deepest Point on the Ottawa River” out of caution.

We will start by examining Lake Timiskaming, a sizable freshwater lake that is thought to be a portion of the Ottawa River. Given that its maximum depth is 709 feet (216 meters), we feel it would be negligent to ignore it. According to a different version, the Ontario village of Deep River is not far from where the Ottawa River reaches its lowest point. It is stated that this depth is 402 feet (123 meters).

We’ll conclude by bringing up a fourth point that is deeper than the generally accepted depth. Located immediately west of Deux-Rivières in Moose Bay on the Holden Lake Reservoir, this location is noted for having a maximum depth of 565 feet (172 meters). We reported all the depths we could locate because we were unable to locate information on how maximum depth data are selected or excluded if they are on the same river. The Ottawa River is undoubtedly among the world’s deepest rivers, regardless of whatever depth is most accurate.

What Does “Ottawa” Mean?

Knowing the origins of a name is a really nice thing. The Ottawa River holds great significance for the native and tribal people, much like it does for much of the rest of North America. These are the original landowners, who inhabited this area long before European colonization. The Anishinàbemowin verb “adawe,” which meaning “to trade,” is the source of the name “Ottawa.” The indigenous inhabitants of this Algonquian-speaking region ruled over the waters of the Ottawa River.

At the time, this river served as the region’s main thoroughfare. Occasionally, it is referred to as “the original Trans-Canadian highway.” This is probably the reason it was given a name that was either stolen or distorted from the verb that means “to trade.” But “adapted” does not imply “based on originality.” This is not the name provided by the Anishinàbemowin people, according to the Ottawa Riverkeeper website. They actually refer to it as “Kichi Sibi,” which translates to “Great River.” This would be translated as “La Grande Riviere” in French.

Where are the Headwaters?

The Lac des Outaouais is home to this powerful river’s headwaters. This lake is located in the Outaouais area in western Quebec. The Ottawa River is known by this name in French. Thus, the name basically means “Lake of the Ottawa River,” however there might be a more precise or intricate translation. To help you better understand where the Ottawa River starts, we’ve included a map showing where this lake lies.

As you can see, there are many different bodies of water in this somewhat isolated area. The city of Ottawa, which bears the name of the river, is located roughly 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of the headwaters. The vast metropolis of Montreal is barely 180 miles (290 km) away from the headwaters.

Where is the Mouth of the Ottawa River?

The Ottawa River joins the St. Lawrence River near Montreal after emptying into the Lake of Two Mountains. It has passed through its drainage basin, which drains around 56,500 square miles (146,300 square kilometers), by the time it reaches its mouth. For our chart illustrating the location of the Ottawa River’s confluence with the St Lawrence River, we have chosen Perrot Island near Montreal as the pin.

The Ottawa River and the Lake of Two Mountains are located to the island’s north and northwest. The Ottawa River then leaves the island to the west and runs south to the southwest end of Lake Saint-Louis, where it meets the St. Lawrence River.

Wildlife and the Ottawa River

It is almost astounding how diverse the fauna is near the Ottawa River. When we take into account that riparian areas rank among the world’s richest wildlife habitats, it becomes more plausible. Thousands of animal species from all over the world can be found in these places. In particular, the Ottawa River is home to around 85 different species of fish. This lengthy, twisting river is vital to over 300 species of birds. Its waters also have a close association with 53 species of mammals. Remarkably, the waterways are home to at least 14 species of freshwater mussels and 33 species of amphibians and reptiles congregate near its banks.

Beavers, otters, and minks are a few examples of animals that inhabit the Ottawa River or its environs. Along its banks, large creatures like as black bears and white-tailed deer spend their days, and the adjacent forests are home to raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and mice.

How Many Tributaries Does the Ottawa River Have?

With several distinct tributaries, the Ottawa River has a huge watershed. The Ottawa River has at least 19 significant tributaries, and we will enumerate them below. This covers the section of the river that flows from Lake Temiscaming all the way down to its mouth at the St. Lawrence River, as well as tributaries from the Upper Ottawa River. We acknowledge that this may not be an exhaustive list of all the tributaries that run into the Ottawa River, as we gathered these rivers from the Ottawa Riverkeeper website.

Wabi Creek
Montreal River
Mattawa River
Petawawa River
Bonnechere River
Mississippi River (no relation to the United States Mississippi River)
South Nation
Du Lievre
Petit Nation

We were unable to look up and validate the whole names, lengths, or depths of any of these other tributaries because this article is about the depth of the Ottawa River. But it’s crucial to recognize that a river’s tributaries contribute to its overall watershed and make up the entirety of the river. Each of these streams, rivers, and waterways contributes significantly to the river’s overall ecosystem.

In brief

There is substantial disagreement regarding the Ottawa River’s maximum depth. While most people agree that the river doesn’t go deeper than 318 feet, there are a number of lakes and reservoirs along the river’s path that are significantly deeper. We examined at depths as low as 709 feet in different places! Still, this is one of the world’s deepest rivers and a vital component of Canadian life.