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If you have been fortunate enough to travel to the Caribbean, then you know all about “island” time. It’s a well-accepted phenomenon that quickly alters a visitor’s concept of the passage of time, as the Caribbean surf, sand and sunshine inspires a transition into a slower, more relaxing pace of life.

Here along the Mattawa River, visitors to our waterfront resort experience a similar phenomenon. Being on “Mattawa time,” however, doesn’t simply mean you slow your pace; if you do it properly, connecting to Mattawa time can actually transport you back through more than 10,000 years of history!

Your journey back in time begins on the water – at the Mattawa River cottage resort Ontario, that means climbing into or onto one of the many canoes, paddle boards or kayaks available free of charge for use by all guests. Whether you travel east or west is of no consequence; as soon as you set out on your paddling journey, you’re traversing the same historical waterway that once served as a major transportation artery for the local Anishinaabek People, along with some of Canada’s most celebrated explorers and voyageurs. This is an outdoor classroom of epic proportions, a perfect destination for private schools, teachers and gifted students to receive and education in living history.

The first thing you should notice while on the water is the geography of the river. The Mattawa flows east from Trout Lake east of North Bay and enters the Ottawa River at the town of Mattawa; both the river and the town get their name from the Algonquin word for “meeting of waterways.” The river flows through the Algonquin Highlands inside a graben, a geological term that describes “an elongated block of the earth’s crust that lies between two faults and displaced downward relative to the blocks on either side, as in a rift valley.” As a result, almost the entire 76 kilometres of river flows through a rock-walled canyon, which reaches up to 150 metres high in some places. A blanket of verdant forest covers the walls, providing a stunning natural vista for paddlers or Mattawa River fishing lovers to enjoy as they travel the calm waters of the river.

Take a moment as you travel to lift your paddle from the water and simply revel in the silence. The Mattawa was protected as a provincial park in 1970 and is almost entirely free of shoreline development, cottages and commerce, so it’s an exceptional natural environment for meditation and reflection or for teaching classrooms natural history. Close your eyes, and you can imagine the excitement that Étienne Brulé must have felt as he became the first European to travel the river back in 1610. Brulé was there at the request of Samuel de Champlain, who sent Brulé to live with the Wendat People for a year in order to become a translator to aid in their travels through the region. Champlain followed in 1615, opening the door to both the fur trade and an influx of explorers, coureurs des bois and later, voyageurs who travelled deeper and farther into the west to collect fur pelts for the newly formed Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company.

As you travel the river, you’ll be joining the likes of other notable travellers such as Jean Nicolet (1620), Jean de Brébeuf (1626), Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers (1658), Alexander MacKenzie (1794) and David Thompson (1812). You may not earn your place in the annals of Canadian history, but your journey will be no less memorable or impactful.

At the Mattawa River waterfront resort, our cabins are named after these timeless travellers, a reminder of the historical significance of the land and waters along which our secluded getaway is built. We invite you to drift back into history by experiencing the wonders of “Mattawa time,” your chance to get a glimpse into what life was like along the river so many centuries ago. You can also discover more great information about the entire Mattawa area by visiting the Mattawa Museum (

Whether you’re exploring family vacation ideas in a pet-friendly resort, or looking for an exceptional location for private school student getaways focused on education, there is no better resort deal Ontario than the Mattawa River Resort. We look forward to hosting you in the very near future!

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