The St. Marys River, 125 km in length, originates in Lake Superior, Whitefish Bay, flows easterly past Sault Ste. Marie and divides into two channels around St. Joseph Island before entering Lake Huron at Bruce Mines and Detour Michigan.
Located in the heart of the Great Lakes system, the St. Marys River plays a significant role given it is a hydrological, ecological and international navigational link among three Great Lakes. The St. Marys River stands at the geologic crossroads of North America. Its natural environment includes elements of the major stages and processes that have shaped the northern half of the continent. The St. Marys River possesses outstanding cultural values and recreational opportunities.
As early as 2500 BC, the St. Marys valley became the cultural heart of the Ojibwe peoples. The first European exploration was in the 17th and 18th centuries; when the river became the key link in the water route to the west for explorers, fur traders, settlers and the military. The St. Marys River also afforded many year round recreational activities including boating, fishing, camping, heritage appreciation and hiking.
St. Marys River Area of Concern
The St. Marys River provides an important link between Lake Superior and Lakes Huron and Michigan and is currently listed as one of 43 areas of concern in the Great Lakes Basin by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the St. Marys River was developed and implemented through collaborative efforts between government agencies, academic institutions, First Nations communities and other stakeholders.
Writing the St. Marys Lake Superior State University’s English department and the Bi-National Public Advisory Council Resource Office have created a new blog entitled “Writing the St. Marys” where writers can post creative non-fiction accounts, descriptions, impressions and inspirations about the St. Marys River and what makes it such a special place to each of us. Full of history, culture, and natural heritage, the river and all it encompasses is extremely important to each and every one of us in it’s own way, and is well worth working so hard to conserve.
To learn more about the RAP and current activities, please visit the St. Marys River Remedial Action Plan Facebook Page or visit the St. Marys River Bi-national Public Advisory Council Website.
Current Projects Underway in the St. Marys River
The Remedial Action Plan team at Algoma University is currently conducting a three-year study (2013-2016) of water quality which is being funded by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. River water samples are being analyzed and detailed field observations taken, in order to help determine if the beneficial use impairments: (1) degradation of aesthetics and (2) eutrophication or undesirable algae, are still present in the Canadian portion of the St. Marys River Area of Concern. For more information, please visit the Projects page of the BPAC Website.