In April 2021, Smoky Lake County partnered with Wise Use to conduct a Public Input Survey, which received several hundred responses from across the province. In May, we published the 'What We Heard Report' which will be viewed here.
The CHRS serves to commemorate and celebrate the values that make exceptional Canadian Rivers unique and special.
The North Saskatchewan River (NSR) has previously been identified as representing outstanding and exceptional value. In the Smoky Lake Region, this includes the Victoria District National Historic Site of Canada, Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site, Metis Crossing, and many other sites of significance near the river corridor.
We have so far received more than sixty letters of support from river communities and community groups, and Alberta Minister of Environment Jason Nixon has committed to support the project!
- Letters of Support from:
- Fort Edmonton Park Management Co., (web link)
- North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA), (web link)
- River Valley Alliance (RVA), (web link)
- Alberta Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Aheer, (web link)
- Grand Chief Vernon Watchmaker, Treaty 6 Confederacy of First Nations (COT6FN), (web link)
- President Audrey Poitras, Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA), (web link)
- Tammy Burke, Mayor, Town of Rocky Mountain House, AB, (web link)
- Alberta Senator Douglas Black, Deputy Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, (web link)
- Shawn Bradford, Sr. VP Water Canada, EPCOR Utilities Inc, (web link)
As support continues to grow, our next step will be to complete a revised Nomination Document (describing the exceptional values for which the NSR deserves to be recognized) during the spring/summer of 2021. If the Nomination Document is accepted by the CHRS Board, a Designation Document (aka Management Plan) will then be created.
NOTE: Designation is commemorative. The Management Plan (aka Designation Document) is not an additional layer of regulation or red tape. It does not affect on jurisdiction or ownership. Instead, Designation is intended to promote public respect, engagement, and participation in making good river-management decisions.
In 2021, Parks Canada provided a funding contribution of $5,000 towards the completion of the Nomination Document for the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System.
En 2021, Parcs Canada a versé une contribution financière de 5 000 $ pour l'achèvement du document de mise en candidature pour la rivière Saskatchewan Nord en Alberta au réseau des rivières du patrimoine canadien.
Edmonton City Council discussion of April 19, 2021
(begins at 5:35:25)
Webinar with Senator Paula Simmons, Billie Millholand, and Thomas Long - April 2021
North Saskatchewan River
Rising in the Rocky Mountains, in the Columbia Icefield, and flows generally northeast, reaching Smoky Lake County, before continuing on its 1,200 kilometre journey to join with the South Saskatchewan at about Prince Albert, and beyond to Lake Winnipeg, reaching the Arctic Ocean of Hudson's Bay via the Nelson River.
The charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company, granted by King Charles II of England in 1670, specified that the company could claim all lands in the watershed of the Hudson’s Bay. Named Rupert’s Land after the king’s cousin Prince Rupert of Bavaria, the first Governor of the HBC, the extent of the grant was originally unknown. It was the Saskatchewan River system which defined Company’s huge western hinterland and, subsequently, title to vast tracts of land across the Canadian prairies.
Explorers noted that the Blackfoot people called this river Omaka-ty, or “Big River”. French Canadian maps dating from the 1790s label it Rivière Bourbon in honour of the French king. But it was the Cree name, Kisiskatchewani Sipi meaning “swift current river” that endured. Alexander Mackenzie wrote the name “Saskatchiwine” in 1793. The modern spelling came to the fore in 1882, when the Alberta and Saskatchewan Districts of the North-West Territories were created.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT ARE HERITAGE RIVERS?
Canada’s +40 Heritage Rivers are recognized nationally for their outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational heritage. These rivers are an important part of Canada’s rich heritage, and shape who we are as a nation.
Once rivers are designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, they become part of a network of waterways that are cared for by passionate river stewards. Governments, local communities, conservation authorities and local citizens come together with the overarching goal of celebrating, conserving and protecting designated rivers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHRS HERITAGE DESIGNATION?
Being a part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System means an opportunity to:
- foster cooperative river management that unites communities;
- celebrate and support the cultural connections of Indigenous Peoples with rivers;
- tell the stories of our nation, building sense of identity and pride;
- stimulate adventure travel and sustainable tourism;
- help Canadians connect to history, nature and cultural traditions;
- promote stewardship and citizen engagement;
- engage new Canadians and youth in river education, conservation, and recreation;
- encourage the protection of water resources to improve public health, well-being, and quality of life.
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System informs, inspires and encourages Canadians to connect with the country’s river heritage and share in its safe-keeping. Our heritage rivers are integral to the health, well-being, and identity of Canada’s current and future generations.
DOES A CHRS DESIGNATION RESTRICT DEVELOPMENT?
No. The designation is commemorative and non-regulatory, meaning no new regulations or rules are brought-about or implemented as a result. Existing legislation already in-force continues, and the designation may serve as vehicle for collaboration and conversation among governments, residents, and landowners.
IS THE N. SASK RIVER ALREADY DESIGNATED?
A 48.5 kilometre-long section of the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River (NSR) within federal lands of Banff National Park was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 1989, due to its outstanding natural and cultural heritage.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DESIGNATION?
After a river is designated to the System, an annual report is prepared each year describing changes, improvements and threats to the values for which the river was designated. River-based events and stewardship actions are also listed in annual reports. Every ten years, an in-depth review of the river’s values is undertaken and a monitoring report on the decade is prepared and tabled with the Board.
(1989 text located at Saskatchewan Crossing, Banff National Park)
"The North Saskatchewan River - The North Saskatchewan River rises in the Saskatchewan Glacier, an arm of the massive Columbia Icefield. The section of the river in Banff National Park flows swiftly past spectacular views of Rocky Mountain peaks. Native people hunted and camped along its shores for thousands of years before David Thompson, Joseph Howse, and later the Palliser Expedition explored the area. With its tributary, the Howse River, it was briefly a major route for nineteenth century fur traders. Today, it provides a scenic recreational experience for skilled canoeists. For these outstanding features, the North Saskatchewan River in Banff National Park has been proclaimed a Canadian Heritage River."
left/below: 2006 CHRS Ceremony at Rocky Mountain House celebrating the NSR Heritage River Study, officiated by the Honorable Helen Hunley, former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. Courtesy, Billie Milholland.
- PROCLAIMATION by City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson - Canadian Rivers Day - June 12, 2021
- Spring, Jackson. (April 2021). 'City council endorses heritage nomination for North Saskatchewan River' Taproot Edmonton.
- Taylor. (April 2021) '[Treaty 6] letter of support for the nomination of the North Saskatchewan River' Smoky Lake Signal
- (Feb 2021) 'Sturgeon signs on to Smoky Lake's push for Canadian Heritage River System Status' Redwater Review.
- Spoor, D. (February 2021). 'County lends support to heritage designation for North Saskatchewan River' Rocky Mountineer.
- Stolz, H. (January 2021). 'City council backing river project to promote tourism and culture' Fortsaskonline.
- Huser, J. (December 2020). 'North Saskatchewan River could become part of Canadian Heritage Rivers System' Lakeland TODAY.
- Staples. (July 2015). 'The joy of swimming down the North Saskatchewan River' Edmonton Journal.
- (March 2020). 'Alberta kickstarts planning for Big Island, a new provincial park in Edmonton's river valley' CBC Edmonton
- (October 2018) 'Big Island Provincial Park? A look back at Big Island as an Edmonton destination' CBC Edmonton
- (August 2020) 'Pandemic paddling: Edmonton canoe rental companies flooded by demand' CBC Edmonton
- Smoky Lake County News Release: April 15, 2021 @ 0930MST
- City of Leduc News Release: April 22, 2021
- City of St. Albert News Release: March 8, 2021
- Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS Website)
- Alberta Parks: CHRS
- Parks Canada: CHRS
- Explore Edmonton 10-Year Tourism Master Plan
- see Strategy #3: "Activate the river valley to create a more vibrant destination and gathering place "
- North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA), Alberta
- Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin
- North Saskatchewan River Basin Council (NSRBC), Saskatchewan
- Executive Summary: CHRS Study of Rivers in Alberta (1996)
- Phase 1: Development of a Thematic Framework
- Phase 2: A Preliminary Application of the Evaluation Framework
- Phase 3: River Integrity and Management Feasibility Assessment
- Editions of Confluence Magazine (from the Gov. of Alberta Library)