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Health of the Rideau River


Hogs Back to the Rideau Falls

Results collected during the Rideau River Biodiversity Project found a variety of plants and animals in this section of the Rideau River that was surprising, considering the section passes through downtown Ottawa.

image Health Card image
Happy face.  The swiftly flowing water from Hogs Back, along with such features as underwater tree trunks, rocks and small bays, creates a diversity of habitats. These diverse habitats support an abundance of insects and fish, notably smallmouth bass and muskellunge.
Happy face.
Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata. Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata, near St. Patrick Street in Ottawa.
This section is particularly favourable to aquatic plants. The depth of the River and the speed of the current vary from one place to another. This variance allows many types of habitats for the plants and supports their diversity.
Sad face.  Levels of native freshwater mussel populations are extremely low in this section of the River, primarily because of the invasion of exotic zebra mussels and changes in environmental quality in recent decades.
Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, on a ladder of a lock. Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) cover the ladder and walls of the Hartwells lock in Ottawa.
  Water Quality
Sad face.  Throughout the Project, phosphorus was present in high concentration. Usually this causes excessive plant growth, thereby creating dense plant beds and large floating mats of decaying algae, but this is not happening in the Brewer Park area.
Happy face.   During the Project, levels of E. coli bacteria were low enough to permit swimming in this section on most days.
  • Brewer Park is one of the best sites for biodiversity in the downstream stretch of the River (see map). Thanks to the replanting and cleanup efforts of local community groups, diversity of habitats has been restored, thereby providing support for a variety of insects, birds and fish. [16]

  • Between May and November, swans that are descendants of swans given by Queen Elizabeth II can be seen along this length of the River.

Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos.
Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos.
See also:
Biodiversity at a Glance: the situation of animals and plants, evaluated with the help of a Biodiversity Index.

Water Quality at a Glance: measurements of several components indicate the quality of the water.

Comparative graphs of the different sections of the River.


  Hogs Back to Rideau Falls  
 Don't Overlook...  

Map of the Rideau River between Hogs Back and Rideau Falls.
See a detailed map of the Rideau River between Hogs Back and the Rideau Falls.

A Downtown River
This unique section of the Rideau River flows through the City of Ottawa from the lock station at Hogs Back to the Rideau Falls.

Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy.
Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy.


A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: Ruben Boles, Canadian Museum of Nature, Hemera, André Martel