Established in 1984, the Canadian Heritage Rivers System aims to ensure that rivers remain not only a significant piece of our past, but also a cherished part of our future. And with 4 located in Manitoba, there are plenty of ways to get to know these special river systems and all that they have to offer.
Let’s start with the river that will likely be the most familiar: The Red River. Flowing in a northerly direction, the Red River crosses the lakebed of the former Glacial Lake Agassiz into Lake Winnipeg. The Red’s historical significance comes from its role in shaping and defining many aspects of culture and economic development in Western Canada, and acting as a thoroughfare for trade and travel. Indigenous people traveled the Red River and its tributaries for thousands of years, and voyageurs, fur traders and tourists have followed suit. You can get to know the Red River by fishing or paddling its waters.
Flowing from Atikaki Provincial Park to Lake Winnipeg, the path of Manitoba’s first Canadian Heritage River, the Bloodvein, has remained steady for 11,000 years. With the scenic surroundings of the Canadian Shield, the Bloodvein draws in wilderness exploreres from around the world for some of the best whitewater rafting/kayaking in the world, as well as amazing angling and wildlife viewing. The Bloodvein River is remote with true unspoiled beauty and is accessible enough to be explored by most levels of paddlers. Get a glimpse into a typical trip on the Bloodvein.
Not only is the Hayes River one of the most scenic and stunning rivers in Manitoba, it also has played an incredibly important role in history. For Indigenous people, the river provided a means to travel and trade resources in the area. By 1684, the York Factory was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company and became one of the most important fur trading posts of the time. Business was operated there for more than 270 years, with the current building operated and maintained by Parks Canada. It’s a wonder that it wasn’t until 2006 that the Hayes was designated a Canadian Heritage River! The Hayes River can be paddled downstream or upstream, with popular routes starting from Norway House or Oxford House.
Undertaken each year by groups of experienced paddlers, Seal River is a challenging route located 260 km upstream from Hudson Bay. A wildlife mecca, you can expect to see everything from seals to beluga whales to polar bears to bald eagles on an excursion up the river. Designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 1992, a paddle on the Seal River is rewarded with scenic views of deep gorges, marshes, tidal flats and enormous lake trout and northern pike. Churchill Wild offers a beautiful heritage lodge which is home to multiple tours around Seal River.