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Canadian River Heritage Award

Canadian River Heritage Award

Canada is a nation of rivers, so it flows that people who go above and beyond to preserve Canada’s river heritage should be celebrated.

The Canadian Canoe Museum, in partnership with the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, recognizes outstanding individual contributions of national significance to river heritage and conservation with The Canadian Heritage River Award.

The Canadian Canoe Museum, where the Canadian River Heritage Award will be housed and awarded on a triannual basis, is delighted to call for nominees for the first Canadian Heritage River Award!

Bill Mason's red canoe sits at the edge of the lake.


The Canadian River Heritage Award (the Award) was first presented as the Bill Mason National River Conservation Award in 1994 on the tenth anniversary of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). It was subsequently presented triennially at Canadian river heritage conferences organized in association with the CHRS.

The inaugural recipient was Canadian Canoe Museum founder Kirk Wipper. Since then, other recipients have been: Haida artist, Bill Reid (1998); former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (2000); Algonquin Elder William Commanda (2004); artist, author and outfitter Hap Wilson (2007); paddler, author and river advocate Max Finkelstein (2009); river conservation advocate and long-time CHRS manager Don Gibson (2013); and wilderness advocates and educators Carol and Bruce Hodgins (2017).

In 2020, award criteria were updated through a partnership between the CHRS Board and the Canadian Canoe Museum, and the award was renamed The Canadian River Heritage Award to reflect its national significance while carrying forward the spirit in which it was originally conceived.

Award Criteria

Four Indigenous youth paddle a birch bark canoe.
Photo Credit: Great Lakes Cultural Camp

Recipients are recognized as making an outstanding contribution of national significance to river heritage in Canada.

Nominations are considered based on two key criteria:

  • Scope: the extent to which the nominee has positively contributed to Canada’s river heritage.
  • Impact: the degree to which the actions of the nominee have had, or are expected to have, a profound and lasting influence on individuals and/or communities, and natural or cultural heritage in Canada.

Nominations will also be assessed regarding the degree to which the nominee’s accomplishments embrace diversity and advance inclusion.

While regionally important actions may be recognized, they must represent a unique and enduring contribution that is notable at a national scale.

Any individual who is a present or former long-term resident of Canada is eligible for nomination, except elected or appointed public officials who may not be nominated while in office.

The Award may be granted posthumously if the person is nominated within one year of their death or was nominated at any point prior to their death.

For a full overview of the award criteria, selection process, award presentation, standards of conduct, and more please view the PDFs below:

  • April: Call for nominations
  • June: Nomination period closed
  • July: Nominations reviewed by CHRS Secretariat
  • August: Nominations reviewed by Selection Committee
  • October: Award presentation
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The Canadian Canoe Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are situated on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and the traditional territory covered by the Williams Treaties First Nations. The Canadian Canoe Museum also recognizes the contributions of Indigenous Peoples including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, in shaping this community and country as a whole.

As an organization that stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks & paddled watercraft, we will honour and share the cultural histories and stories within the collection in all that we do.

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2077 Ashburnham Dr
Peterborough, ON
K9L 1P8

Phone: 705-748-9153

Email: [email protected]


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