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Mattawa, Ontario

railway Bridge over Ottawa River, just north of Mattawa

Mattawa is a 3,000 resident town located in Northeastern Ontario, on the Trans-Canada Highway #17, where the Mattawa River flows into the Ottawa River. The name is the Ojibway phrase for “meeting of the waters.”  At this point the Ottawa River is about over 300 metres across, with just a railway bridge crossing near this town. The town is 60 km E of North Bay,180 km E of Sudbury, 150 km NW of Pembroke, and 300 km NW of Ottawa.

The town has a rich history deeply intertwined with the fur trade, Indigenous cultures, exploration, and resource development.

Mattawa has both historical charm with local museums and historical site, and lots of outdoor activities like canoeing, fishing, and hiking.

Mattawa Events

Mattawa Voyageur Days: An annual event celebrating the town’s history, culture, and the fur trade era, featuring reenactments, live entertainment, and community activities.

Mattawa History

The area around Mattawa has been inhabited by the Algonquin and Nipissing First Nations for thousands of years. The Indigenous communities relied on hunting, fishing, and gathering for their sustenance.

The Mattawa River was a route used by early explorers to canoe to the fur-rich western interior around and past the Great Lakes. French explorers and fur traders established several trading posts along the river, fostering cultural exchanges and economic interactions.

In the 1600s and 1700s, French explorers and voyageurs, including Samuel de Champlain, Étienne Brûlé, and Jean Nicolet, explored the Mattawa River and surrounding areas. The voyageurs were skilled fur traders and paddlers who played a vital role in building the French fur trade network.

In the 1800s, European settlers arrived in the area and established permanent communities. The community of Mattawa was founded in the mid-1800s, and incorporated as a village in 1884.

The abundance of timber in the surrounding forests led to the growth of the lumber industry in Mattawa. Sawmills were established to process the timber, and the Ottawa River was used to transport logs downstream to larger markets. By the 1880s the railroad connected Mattawa to markets to the south.

Mattawa has a very multicultural population, including Indigenous peoples, French Canadians, and later, other European settlers.

The Timber Train leaves from Mattawa train station

Mattawa Attractions

Mattawa Museum and Historic Train Station

315 Main Street, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0

705-744-5495

Website: Mattawa Museum

Explore local history and artifacts in a historic train station setting.

Mattawa Island Conservation Area

End of Island Street, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0

An island park offering walking trails, picnicking areas, and scenic views of the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers.

Mattawa Voyageur Days

160 Water St, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0

1-800-267-4222

Website https://www.voyageurdays.ca/

Since 1999, the Annual Mattawa Voyageur Days attracts 4000 visitors to the many attractions and the musical line up, held last weekend of July.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Entrance via Highway 17, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0 , about 15 km W of Mattawa

705-744-2276

Website: Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

A provincial park with camping, hiking trails, and access to Moore Lake and the Mattawa River.

Canadian Ecology Centre

6905 Highway 17, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0 , about 16 km W of Mattawa

705-744-1715

Website: Canadian Ecology Centre

A facility located overlooking the Mattawa River that is dedicated to environmental education and sustainable practices, offering guided nature tours, workshops, and outdoor experiences.

Mattawa River Provincial Park

Entrance via Highway 630 or Highway 17, Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0 , about 40km W of Mattawa

705-744-2276

Website: Mattawa River Provincial Park

A provincial park offering canoeing, kayaking, camping, and hiking opportunities along the historic Mattawa River.

This create is the second largest known meteor strike in Canada. The crater is centered around Gilmour Lake, best accessed by driving 31 km south on Highway 17, and then heading west on a gravel road to Brent. The crater is about 10 km north of Brent.

Mattawa, Ontario Area Map