At the joining of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers and in the shadow of the mighty Laurentian mountains is the crossroads of Canada. Used as a meeting place by the first nations people and voyageurs on long portages from east to west and north to south, Mattawa has always been a meeting place, and Canada’s crossroads. For families travelling cross-country, for people who love off-road trails, for paddlers, hikers and lovers of nature, Mattawa is the perfect place to stop and meet, before exploring the rest of our vast country.
The first European to pitch camp in Mattawa was Etienne Brulé, who arrived in 1610. (Look out for the statue commemorating his part in Mattawa's history in Mattawa main street, Monestime Way).
Brulé had been sent up river by the famous French navigator, cartographer, explorer and diplomat, Samuel de Champlain. Brulé's mission was to live with the Algonquin and Huron Indians inhabiting the area.
He was charged with learning their language and customs and gathering information on the routes heading to the North and West. Samuel de Champlain himself passed through Mattawa in 1615. Mattawa subsequently became an important hub for the fur trade, due to its location on the voyageur canoe route from Montreal to the Great Lakes.
The voyageurs were immensely tough French Canadians who transported fur cargoes in enormous trade canoes during the fur trade era.
These larger than life characters are the cowboy heroes of Canada. They have earned a place in history for their legendary feats of physical strength and endurance.
For almost 300 years the voyageurs paddled the waters from the St Lawrence to the central and north west areas of North America, bringing trade goods to the outposts and valuable furs back to eastern settlements.
Find out much more and steep yourself in Mattawa's fascinating history by visiting the Mattawa Museum, located on Explorers' Point, where the two rivers meet.
Every visitor to Mattawa is welcomed by Big Joe – a legendary French-Canadian Folk Hero who, during the 1800’s was renowned for “standing up for the little guy” by defending the loggers of the time against often cruel bosses. Today his statue stands in Voyageur Place as a symbol of Mattawa’s heritage.
Since the early days of Mattawa’s settlement by European’s, lumber has played a huge role in the region’s development. As early as 1832s the lumber trade was booming – so much so that one could barely see the waters of the Ottawa river for the number of logs floating down it. Today the calm, lush and pristine Boreal forest serves as a backdrop for our parks, waterways, trails and events.
Mattawa Voyageur Country in the province of Ontario is nestled between the convergence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers at the foot of the Laurentian mountain range. Bordering Quebec on the east, Algonquin Park on the south, North Bay to the west, and the wild boreal forests and lakes of the Temiskaming region on the north, we honour the Voyageurs through our love of nature and travel.
Our region is as much a meeting place today as it was in the time of the First Nations and Voyageurs. With access to Ontario’s oldest provincial park, hundreds of kilometers of multi-use trails, great dining and incredible waterways and provincial parks Mattawa Voyaguer Country will bring out the explorer in you.