The Grand River is the largest river entirely within southern Ontario, flowing over 300 km from its headwaters in Dufferin county. Because of its position relative to the Niagara escarpment, the river flows south to Port Maitland on Lake Erie, and is fed by several large tributaries including the Speed, Eramosa, Conestogo and Nith rivers. On its journey, the Grand passes through natural, agricultural and urban landscapes, and the river is the lifeblood of cities such as Fergus, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris and Brantford. 

The Grand has a rich history: Native Americans have occupied the watershed for more than 10, 000 years, and the river was extensively used by European settlers for transportation and agricultural purposes over the last 3 centuries.  This historic importance lead to the Grand River being named a Canadian Heritage River in 1994. 



Although the Grand River has been altered by human activity, much of the ecological integrity of the watershed has been maintained, thanks in part to governmental and non-profit organizations. The Grand River watershed still contains many rare Carolinian plant species, and is an important stop-over point for migratory birds. Additionally, the Grand River holds more than 80 species of fish, including resident and migratory rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout.

The middle section of the Grand River (from Cambridge to Brantford) is an important recharge zone, where extensive coldwater inflows improve the river’s water quality. This area is immediately downstream of nearly half a million people that live in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, and so maintaing water quality in this section is extremely important to conserving the overall condition of the river