The Ottawa Valley

A land of rivers, streams and forests
The whitewater capital of Ontario

ottawa valley When most people think of the Ottawa Valley they naturally assume the region is all about the City of Ottawa and while it does in fact include the city that area is more appropriately called the National Capital Region. I have included information about the city and its immediate environs on my Ottawa page as part of my city/towns section.

This Ottawa Valley section is actually about the valley that has been cut by the Ottawa River that forms part of the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Geographically it also forms the transition between the highlands of the Canadian Shield ad the lowlands of the St. Lawrence River.

While there are approximately 1.3 million people inhabiting the valley almost 80% or 1 million of those live in the National Capital Region itself leaving the rest of the region very sparsely populated.

The main communities outside the city are very small and include:
  • Town of Petawawa, population 16,000
  • City of Pembroke, population 14,000
  • Town of Hawkesbury, population 11,000
  • Town of Arnprior, population 8,000
  • Town of Renfrew, population 8,000
The Ottawa Valley itself has been inhabited by aboriginals for a very long time and the original name itself: Outaouais, is the name of a tribe that inhabited the region at the time of exploration by Europeans. Other tribes that inhabited the region include:
  • Huron
  • Iroquois
  • Algonquin
The valley region is bordered in the west by the massive Algonquin Park which in turn was named after another local aboriginal tribe. Like the adjacent park the region is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. It is home to more than 900 lakes and four major river systems and is renowned for its whitewater rafting adventures. Sitting astride the transitional zone between southern and northern Ontario it is one of the most visited areas of the province, mainly by locals but with an ever increasing number of international visitors each year that are discovering the many marvels the valley has to offer.


Map of the Ottawa Valley

ottawa valley map


Getting to the Ottawa Valley Ontario Canada region:

By Car:

It is very easy to get to the heart of the valley by road as a section of the Trans-Canada Highway (highway # 17) runs through its heart.

From Montreal (east):

Take Highway 417 (part of the Trans-Canada highway) and continue north past Ottawa until it eventually turns into Highway # 17 near Arnprior

From Toronto (west):

Take Highway 401 East towards Montreal to just past Brockville thyen head north on highway 416. Continue on Highway 416 until arriving in the Nepean area at which time it ends and you will merge with Highway 417 West. Highway 417 eventually turns into Highway # 17 near Arnprior.

From the North:

From Sudbury and parts farther north continue on the Trans-Canada Highway #17 towards Ottawa and you will travel right through the heart of the valley.

By Air:

The Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport services the Ottawa Valley region and this is one of the busiest airports in the country, handling both international and domestic flights. You should be able to catch either a direct or connecting flight from anywhere in the world to reach the city.

Once you have landed however there are no further commuter services to any of the other smaller communities in the region. By Public Transport:

By Rail:

The City of Ottawa is well served by train daily from both Toronto and Montreal. In fact is a great method of transportation to begin exploring the Ottawa Valley. Unfortunately no other community in the region is serviced by rail so once you are in Ottawa another mode of transportation must be arranged.

For more information visit for schedules and fares.

By Bus:

Many of the small communities in the valley are regularly serviced by bus. Visit for more information as to fares and schedules.


ottawa valley rapids Many visitors have a trip to the City of Ottawa on their itineraries when planning a vacation to Ontario Canada as the city often overshadows the nearby region but the Ottawa Valley has much to offer.

The scenery along the river is beautiful and for those that would like to indulge in a great outdoor activity like whitewater rafting this is definitely the place to go in Canada.

The valley region is adjacent to Algonquin Provincial Park and they share the same stunning topography of lakes, rivers and endless forests. For the nature lover it is a destination that they could spend weeks exploring. For most others a day trip to the end of the valley and back in conjunction with a stay in the City of Ottawa make for a great visit to this part of the province. Combine this with a day or two exploring Algonquin Park and you have the greater part of a week’s vacation spent in the Eastern Ontario region which will not disappoint.

Insider Tip: The region is particularly beautiful during the fall months (late Sept, October, early November) when the autumn colours are at their height and are offset by the rolling hills and fast moving water of the various rivers, creeks and streams. It is a sight to behold and one that will bring a lifetime of memories.


Ottawa Valley Attractions


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