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Saint Lawrence River
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Saint Lawrence River

The Saint Lawrence is among North America’s greatest rivers. The waterways and lakes belonging to its network took shape over 8,000 years ago, after the glaciers melted.

Fed by Great Lakes

In the 17th century, the Saint Lawrence River became the major maritime gateway into Canada, playing a key role in the exploration and development of the North American continent. Flowing out of the Great Lakes, it continues for over 1,000 km, including 200 km along the Canada-U.S. boundary, before discharging into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean.

Thriving plant life

1,700 plant species live along the banks and in the aquatic zones of the Saint Lawrence. The type of vegetation varies primarily according to climate, soil composition and tidal influence. From west to east, plant diversity diminishes gradually, giving way to species of lichen and moss.

Abundant and diverse fauna

The Saint Lawrence is home to a wide range of wildlife, including 83 land and aquatic mammals, and over 400 species of birds, three quarters of which are concentrated in the Montréal archipelago. The river provides a habitat for 18 species of amphibians and 15 species of reptiles, along with over 100 species of fish and more than 2,000 species of aquatic invertebrates.

A river in fragile health

Population growth, industrial development, agriculture and ocean-going shipping have harmful effects on the river’s health. Many species are now threatened from pollution and degradation of their natural habitats. Since 1978, various measures have aimed to clean up the Saint Lawrence and its tributaries, which supply drinking water to 40% of Quebec’s population.

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