Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge Watersheds

Southwestern Quebec offers some of the last remaining opportunities to protect large, intact, landscapes. The Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge watersheds are among the last wild and intact watersheds anywhere in southern Canada. Our vision for western Quebec is bold and inspiring - an interconnected network of protected areas centered around the Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge watersheds that fully protect the richness of the landscape, that provide connections between the forests of the Ottawa Valley and the Boreal forest to the north and that provide meaningful jobs and investment to local communities based on ecotourism and sustainable development. Learn more!


Latest News

2017 Update

Click here for a map of the current (November 2015) protected area proposal for the Dumoine River watershed. The current proposal is for a protected area of 1776 square kilometres. CPAWS Ottawa Valley supports this proposal and we thank the Government of Quebec for taking steps to improve the original design which not only eliminates the pinch points in the protected area, but it also provides for buffer zones around the series of ecological reserves along the north shore of the Ottawa River.

Click here for a map showing possible protected areas in the Noire and Coulonge River watersheds. This map illustrates the current area of interest being explored by the Government of Quebec for an eventual protected area in this region. CPAWS Ottawa Valley feels that these areas are still too small to adequately protect the rich biodiversity of the region and more should be done to expand these areas and to not only connect them to eachother, but also ensure that there is a connection to the Dumoine River watershed to the west.

The Dumoine is…

  • The last undammed wild river in southern Quebec.
  • The largest area of unfragmented southern boreal forest in Quebec
  • A renowned wilderness paddling destination
  • A continentally significant wildlife corridor, protecting a critical link from La Vérendrye wildlife reserve in the north to Algonquin Park, which in turn links to Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) corridor to the Appalachian Mountains to the south.
  • An opportunity to diversify the economy of rural western Quebec still suffering from the effects of the crash of the forestry industry.

The opportunity to create a large protected area in this basin exists under the Quebec Protected Areas Strategy (SQAP). The Ottawa Valley chapter of CPAWS has concrete goals for long-term protection of the Dumoine River and its expertise is based on field work experience and strong land protection in western Quebec and Eastern Ontario. The protection of Dumoine is a priority for CPAWS.

Recent achievements

In 2016, expansions were announced to the Dumoine River protected area, brining the total area with protection to 1776 sq. km. CPAWS Ottawa Valley continues to work to have the current interim protection upgraded to full protection and to ensure that the current proposals for the Noire and Coulonge River watersheds are expanded to fully protect the rich biodiveristy of this region. 

In January 2013, CPAWS Ottawa Valley appeared before the Bureau des Audiences Publiques sur l’Environnement (BAPE) to present our vision for the Dumoine watershed as part of a series of public consultations on protected areas in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec. You can read our entire submission (in French only) in the resources section below.
Our vision is that there would be a core protected area in the immediate watershed, with protections for old-growth forests, species at risk and the watersheds of the major tributaries flowing into the Dumoine River. The proposal we submitted to the BAPE calls for a protected area of at least 3100 km², protecting the majority of the watershed with certified forestry taking place in the balance of the watershed.
The BAPE released its report and recommendations for protected areas in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region in July 2013. The BAPE recommends that the Government of Quebec grant permanent protection to the 1445 km² currently under interim protection and that the Government seriously consider the proposals for expansions made by organizations like CPAWS. The Commission also noted the importance of ecological connectivity and supports the CPAWS vision for a robust north-south connection in the watershed.
While CPAWS Ottawa Valley welcomes the BAPE report and recommendations, we are of the opinion that the size and design of the interim protected area are somewhat inadequate to offer a strong connection between the forests of the Ottawa Valley and the boreal forest to the north. A better design must be developed in order to seize this unique opportunity.
CPAWS Ottawa Valley is working with government officials to develop a stronger set of boundaries and to enlarge the protected area to better protect the region’s ecological, recreational and cultural values. We are expecting the final boundaries to be announced in mid-2014. We expect that the final level of protection will remain a Category III Aquatic Reserve.

How you can help

Contact the office of Quebec Environment Minister, David Heurtel  (http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/ministre/inter.htm) and share your views on the protection of the Dumoine River Watershed.

Been on the river lately? Taken pictures or video? Interest in sharing them with CPAWS? We are always in need of high quality imagery of the watershed and would value any contribution. Please contact us to discuss this opportunity.

Support our 2017 summer art camp which is taking place at Robinson Lake on the Dumoine River. Contact us to learn more. 

Would you like to learn more or get involved? Contact John McDonnell at (819) 778-3355 or jmcdonnell@cpaws.org.

Did you know… ?

Long ago, Wiskedjak, a prominent character of the Algonqian legends, came across Kiwegoam or the “turn-back lake” (Dumoine Lake). As he walked to the opposite side, he found a round, high, mountain that looked like a beaver lodge. And Wiskedjak wanted to hunt the giant beaver that lived in this lodge. He decided to drain Kiwegoam (Dumoine Lake). While the water was draining, Wiskedjak took a nap. When he woke up, he couldn’t find the beaver, and thought that the beaver has followed the draining water and left the lake. And so, he followed the beaver. He went past the Coulonge River, the Pembroke Lakes, and arrived at Calumet Chutes. But he found nothing. He turned around and began to follow his own tracks, thinking they belonged to the beaver. Finally, after a number of attempts Wiskedjak gave up. Nonetheless, his efforts made a significant contribution: his draining of the Dumoine Lake has created the Dumoine River, while his trail established the Calumet portage, or simply the Wiskedjak tracks (Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee 2005) (p. 18-21).

Since then, the Dumoine River has developed a strong and inseparable relationship with humans. Here is the untold story of the birth of the Dumoine River until 1600:

Since time immemorial, Nature has patiently carved out many rivers and lakes from the rocks of the Canadian Shield during the last ice age. One of these rivers is the Dumoine River.

Taking a north-south course, every spring the Dumoine River helps drain the water from Northwestern Quebec to the Ottawa River and out to the Atlantic Ocean. This cycle ensures Mother Earth is cleansed. She also provides nourishment for all kinds of living beings who come to her. And so, the Boreal Forest flourished. This rich ancient forest houses a wide variety of animals, such as black bears and moose, beavers, muskrats, and wolves.  Among its many species of trees are the black spruce, white and red pine, pockets of white cedar, and white and yellow birch. Maples and other deciduous trees become more common as you move down towards the southern part of the river. The forest refreshes the air for Mother Earth to breathe.

Then the Algonquians arrived approximately 10 000 years ago. They migrated from the North to the Canadian Shield and slowly moved southwards. They reached the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region and met the Dumoine River, and gave it the name Aginagwasi Sipi. (Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee 2005). This encounter has given the Dumoine River a new role — to carry the Algonquiens in their canoes as they travel from North to South on the river. Quickly, the Dumoine River was recognized as one of the quickest and most important traveling routes to reach the inland region from the Ottawa River. Archaeologists have found evidence along the river which suggests temporary campsites. The evidence further supports the fact that a considerable number of people traveled on the river over time, which indicates that it was an important traveling route during the pre-colonial era. With rivers as their roads and canoes as their vehicles, the people of this land quickly developed integrated long-distance communications networks which facilitated the exchange of ideas, technology and material goods. This network also provided for the formation of alliances and the sharing of traditions and wisdom throughout the region.

Over these ten thousand years, a civilization was born. The Dumoine watershed has witnessed everything: from wars to assimilation, from radical migration to epidemics. Nonetheless, this civilization has always been kept alive by its set of strong and rich oral traditions, which revolve around a great respect for Nature. And undoubtedly, water, coming from all sources, has become a critical and intricate element interwoven into the knowledge/culture of this civilization, or the First Nations as we refer to them today.

The people who stayed behind in the area are the Anishinabeg,later referred by the Jesuits as the Algonquins.  They have adopted a nomadic lifestyle in order to harvest seasonal resources. Their rhythm of life embraced winter as the vital season for hunting big game, and summer as the best time for huge gatherings and celebrations such as weddings. We have, to date identified more than 93 archaeological sites along the Dumoine River, which helps us partially understand the inseparable relationship between the Algonquin, the Europeans and the Dumoine. And, there is much more to discover!

Help us to discover this magnificent story by protecting this storied watershed.