River Safety and Etiquette

Working towards safer, shared enjoyment of the river by all.

Did You Know?

  • River usage has been rapidly increasing by swimmers, floaters, paddlers, sailors, and motorboat enthusiasts.

  • 80-90% of the traffic on the river is human-powered, including 35,000+ annual paddling trips on the Lower Gatineau alone.

  • Personal flotation devices and safety equipment are required by law for motor boats and paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, and even inflatables.

  • Boat wakes swamp paddlers and swimmers, and erode the shoreline.

  • Current boating speed limits on the Lower Gatineau are 10 km/h within 30 metres of shore and 55 km/h beyond.

Photo by Cascades Club

Gatineau River Etiquette

All River Users

Leave no trace: plan on bringing your garbage home.

Respect the wildlife: watch quietly from afar; don’t feed; leave plants and rocks as is.

Respect the community: other river lovers, local residents and property.

Be seen: when on the water, make sure you can be seen by an oncoming motorboat!

Paddlers and Floaters

Safety first: bring a personal flotation device and safety equipment.


Follow speed limits: 10 km/h in the narrows and within 30 m of shore is the LAW.

Be considerate: reduce speed and wake before passing a swimmer, floater, or paddler.

Wash your boat before entering when coming from another watercourse.

Limit use of 2-stroke engines. 4-stroke and electric engines are much less polluting.

What We’re Doing

Boat Launch Signage

We worked with Chelsea to develop a boating code of conduct sign that will be installed at the Farm Point public boat launch for the 2021 season.

Boating regulations consultation

We are working with the MRC des Collines, waterfront municipalities, and Transport Canada to conduct public consultations on boating-related problems and possible solutions. Learn more.

What You Can Do

respect the code 

Know and follow all boating laws and river user etiquette.

SLOW DOWN and minimize your wake

To protect the shoreline, and when approaching swimmers, paddlers, other boaters, and wildlife.

Leave No Trace

Bring your garbage back with you, respect wildlife, and don’t take plants or rocks.

Share Your Opinion

Participate in the upcoming public consultations on boating safety.

River Safety & Etiquette News

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