Red River


Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Region: Outside Ontario
Character: Heritage River
Activities:
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Red River
By The Canadian Heritage Rivers System

The Red River played a pivotal role in shaping the history, culture, and economic development of Western Canada.

In 2007, the entire length of the Red River in Manitoba, from Emerson at the U.S. border north to Netley Marsh at Lake Winnipeg, was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) in celebration of the River's significant cultural heritage values.

The Red River played a pivotal role in shaping the history, culture, and economic development of Western Canada.

In 2007, the entire length of the Red River in Manitoba, from Emerson at the U.S. border north to Netley Marsh at Lake Winnipeg, was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) in celebration of the River's significant cultural heritage values.

Along the entire river, the Red's waters support neighbouring settlements and communities. The river continues to provide a supply of domestic water for thousands of residents outside of Winnipeg in southern Manitoba. The River is also an irrigation source and water supply for municipal, agricultural, and commercial users throughout the region.

Geography
This flood-prone prairie river originates in the northern United States and meanders north across rich, flat agricultural land to Lake Winnipeg at Netley Marsh. The Red is the only major river on the Canadian prairies which flows in a northerly direction.

There are two terrestrial ecosystems of this area: the boreal plains ecozone and the only representation in the CHRS of the prairie ecozone in Canada.

Cultural Heritage
Many significant events, place names and historical and archaeological sites are identified in association with the Red. Key to the cultural history of Western Canada, the Red has been a primary resource and transportation corridor for thousands of years by First Nations peoples, and over the past three centuries of European exploration, fur trade and settlement.

For centuries, various peoples and cultures have relied on the river as a mode of passage, a source of water and food, and its adjacent forested environments as shelter and refuge from the open plains of Canada's western prairie.

Today, the Red River Valley is the most densely populated region of Manitoba. Approximately 750,000 people inhabit Winnipeg, towns, villages, and rural landscapes adjacent to the river.

Some of the great cultural heritage values of the Red River are listed below:

Archaeological evidence of 6,000 years of First Nations settlement and use along the river.
Early European exploration and travel along the river in the early 1700s, including Pierre Gaultier de Varennes and Sieur de La Verendrye.
Various Hudson's Bay Company and Northwest Company fur trade forts and posts including Upper Fort Garry, Fort Gibraltar and Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site (the oldest intact fur trading post in North America), representing the period from the late 1700s to the late 1800s.
the Red River colony, established by Lord Selkirk in 1812 at "the Forks" at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, was the first European agricultural settlement in Western Canada - the footprint for the City of Winnipeg and facilitator to the expansion and development of Western Canada during the 1800s and 1900s.
Canadian examples of military conflict and expeditions including Louis Riel and the Riel Rebellion in 1869, the Wolseley Expedition in response to the Rebellion in 1870 and the Northwest Mounted Police "March West" from Fort Dufferin - the birthplace of Canada's "Mountie" symbol - in 1874.
Steamship travel and the major movements of goods and people along the Red in the 1800s.
Major events in immigration and settlement including the Mennonites arrival to Red River in 1875.
Land surveys including the Red River river lot settlement pattern and the International Boundary Commission originating from Fort Dufferin and the survey of the border between Western Canada and the United States in 1872.
St. Andrews Lock and Dam (the largest Camere curtain bridge and dam in the world.)
Flood control measures - more so than any river region in Canada - including community ring dikes and the Winnipeg Floodway and Floodway Gate structure.

Natural Heritage
The Red River and the Red River Valley floodplain are remnants of the decline of Glacial Lake Agassiz in southern Manitoba approximately 8,000 years ago.

The river's present curving, sinuous channel pattern, incised within a broad, level plain of glacial lake clays, is unique to the Red River. Other outstanding natural heritage values of the Red River include:

remnant meander scars and oxbow lakes;
adjacent wetlands and marshes (notably, the Netley Marsh);
severe periodic flooding;
rich soils that are recognized as one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world;
River-bottom forests of Cottonwood, Basswood, Manitoba Maple, Green Ash, and American Elm;
Rare plant species including Red Root, Flat Sedge, Jack in the Pulpit, and False Indigo; and
Other forms of life including fish, birds, reptiles, and rare animal species.

The River's natural habitat has been impacted primarily over the last 100 years by human land use and development influences including riverbank stabilization in urban areas, the Red River Floodway, St. Andrews Dam, and the Lake Winnipeg Regulation Project.

Recreation
The River's rich cultural and natural heritage values and characteristics combine to provide for a wide range of recreational experiences throughout the corridor in both urban, rural, and natural settings. The River is a popular tourism destination and supports high levels of use by a great number of Manitobans and visitors to the province each year.

The River is highly accessible to the public at various points along the corridor via numerous provincial, municipal and civic roadways, riverside trails, boat launches, park lands, and provincial and federal heritage sites.

The River provides for outstanding opportunities for:

recreational boating, power boating, and canoeing;
walking, hiking, cycling on riverbank pathways and trails;
wildlife viewing, camping, and human heritage appreciation; and
winter activities including skiing, skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and sport fishing (e.g., Walleye and catfish angling).

Further Information
River's West - Red River Corridor Inc.

Rivers West - Red River Corridor Inc.
235-614 Des Meurons Street
Saint-Boniface (MB) R2H 2P9
Tel: (204) 925-2321
Fax: (204) 237-4618
Email: exec_dir@riverswest.ca
(www.riverswest.ca) (www.routesonthered.ca)

Red River Designation Document: A Management Approach for the Red River as a Canadian Heritage River

Nomination Document for the Red River in Manitoba

National Historic Sites Along the Red River

"The Forks" National Historic Site of Canada
(http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/repreg/placelieu.aspx?id=4488&pid=7384&h=Forks)

Riel House National Historic Site of Canada
(http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/repreg/placelieu.aspx?id=7762&pid=10487&h=Louis,Riel,House)

Battle of Seven Oaks National Historic Site of Canada
(http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/repreg/placelieu.aspx?id=16005&pid=4183&h=Battle,Seven,Oaks)

Red River Floodway National Historic Site of Canada
(http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/repreg/placelieu.aspx?id=13693&pid=2808&h=Red,River,Floodway)