The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network

Follow Us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • RSS


The St. Lawrence river is used by all types of watercraft, from canoe and kayak to pleasure cruiser to ocean freighter. Several rules guide river travel. Primary is the "paddle-sail-power" right of way hierarchy that gives priority to self-propelled craft, then sail-powered, and finally motorized craft. While this rule is in the paddler's favour, it is often forgotten. Be cautious when approaching other craft. Note that this rule does not apply to freighters! (Most tonnage rules) Steer clear of these vessels, and exercise extreme caution.

Stay close to shore. To minimize the hazards associated with other watercraft, stay close to shore and away from the recreational boating and shipping channels

Cross cautiously and quickly. When the need arises to cross a recreational or shipping channel, do so with caution by checking in all directions for approaching vessels. If the crossing is clear, gather the group to cross the channel in a pod so as to minimize the time necessary for the first and last paddler in the group to make the crossing, keeping a brisk paddling pace.

Stay to starboard.If you alter your route in response to an approaching vessel, steer to your right. This is a standard convention that you should assume other vessels will assume in their approach. If both vessels steer to starboard, hazardous collisions will be reduced!

Assist in distress. If you happen to be in the vicinity of another in distress, be quick to respond. Ensure that the scene is safe for you to assist. Use your communication equipment to contact the professional response facilities onshore.

Be mindful of other people you encounter on the water. The majority of islands in the river are private property, and while many islands owners are happy to say hello and may even welcome you ashore for a friendly chat, please respect their privacy. Also, remember to respect the privacy of other boaters who may be anchored for the evening in a sheltered bay. Give a wide berth as you paddle the channels.

© 2019 Frontenac Arch Biosphere. All Rights Reserved.