The Hillsborough River - Charlottetown, PEI
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
N 46° 13.997 W 063° 07.168
20T E 490788 N 5119974
Quick Description: The 45-kilometre Hillsborough River waterway flows east to west draining a 350 square kilometre area. It is the largest river system on Prince Edward Island. The landscape is flat to gently rolling and the highest watershed point is only 250 feet.
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Date Posted: 11/5/2013 8:43:20 AM
Waymark Code: WMJDR6
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 7

Long Description:
A plaque, located in Charlottetown harbour and in full view of the Hillsborough River, reads as follows:

"The Hillsborough River watershed totalling over 350 square kilometres, is the largest river system in Prince Edward Island. As a river highway, it provides a direct link to our rich human heritage, from the Mi'kmaq who depended on the river for food and travel, to the 1864 meeting of the Fathers of Confederation, the fishers of today and tomorrow. The Hillsborough also harbours the largest saltwater and freshwater marshlands on Prince Edward Island, providing for a diverse natural heritage. This plaque recognizes the special heritage of the Hillsborough and the commitment of the Hillsborough River Association and local citizens to its preservation. As a Canadian Heritage River, management of the Hillsborough will give national recognition and protection to this important waterway."

The Hillsborough River

"The Hillsborough (East) River is typical of many Prince Edward Island waterways, subject to tidal influences up to 75% of the length of its main stem. Early cartographers observed “not one point of this island is further than 10 miles from tidal influence”. The river flows through the pastoral island landscape often buffered by woodland vegetation.

Human populations originating from various European sources over the past 275 years, adapted well to the diversity of an estuarine waterway. Attracted to its life sustaining qualities, humans have at various times harvested oysters, quahogs and mussels; dyked and harvested wetlands; played in and along the river; built large sailing vessels; and used it as a link to local and foreign shores.

In recognition of its importance to our human heritage and because of its outstanding recreational values, the Hillsborough was nominated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 1994. The nomination was sponsored by the Province of Prince Edward Island in partnership with the Hillsborough River Association – local citizens concerned for the river’s future and appreciative of its past. Not forgotten are the days when people homesteaded by the river and used the steamer service in summer and the frozen estuary in winter.


The 45 km. Hillsborough River waterway flows east to west draining a 350 sq. km. area, the largest river system (1/15 the land mass) on Prince Edward Island. Flowing from many springs at its source in the Fanning Brook and St. Patrick Road area, the Hillsborough almost splits Prince Edward Island in two. It was an obvious choice as a route linking north and south for each culture that has occupied the area. Evidence of “late paleo-indian” activity of approximately 10,000 years ago occurs at nearby St. Peters Bay.

The lengthy estuary features a “drowned river” corridor which once had a broad flood plain before rising sea levels more permanently submerged the area.

The landscape is flat to gently rolling. The highest watershed point is only 250 feet in an area renowned for its fresh water supply from ground springs. From Charlottetown to Glenfinnan Island is a very wide estuary, narrowing to roughly 1/2 km in width at this 5.6 ha island 10 km from Charlottetown. The river narrows a second time at Mt. Stewart to several metres. Fed by many springs it is only a few metres wide in the Cherry Hill area.

Natural Heritage

The Hillsborough drainage basin may be the wetland capital of PEI. Salt, brine and freshwater marsh provide a variety of habitat for wildlife. Waterfowl abound among the wetlands. It is home to muskrat and fox, which combined, make up 80% of all trapped species.

Hundreds of nesting pairs of Great Blue Heron like the relative seclusion of Glenfinnan Island near the convergence of the Glenfinnan and the Hillsborough rivers. It is the furthest inland of PEI’s 20 offshore islands. Wildlife viewing is especially rewarding from this point up river and on the tributaries to the south. Where the Hillsborough flows into Charlottetown Harbour, a common tern colony nests on the bridge piers abandoned by humans more than 30 years ago. Both these colonial nesters provide opportunity for natural heritage appreciation.

Designated natural areas exist within the drainage basin: Royalty Oaks, a 4 hectare mature red oak stand, believed to be the only one of its kind in the province, is protected, managed and interpreted in East Royalty. This community and the Island Nature Trust co-manage the site. A wetland on the Johnstons’ River is crown owned and protected under the Natural Areas Protection Act.

Other details of interest include the 57 rare vascular plants within the watershed (25 are, not surprisingly, wetland species) and the presence of several shore bird species on the extensive tidal flats. A variety of salt and fresh water fish inhabit the waterway including brook trout, striped bass, smelt, mackerel and eel.

The single most important feature of the natural heritage of the river is its variety of wildlife due principally to the diversity of habitat. The impact of humans on the natural heritage of the watershed is significant. Like so much of Prince Edward Island no unaltered area remains."

Reference: (visit link)
WILD: no

Number of WILD miles: 15 kilometres


Number of SCENIC miles: 45 kilometres


Number of RECREATIONAL miles: 45 kilometres

River Link: [Web Link]

Support documentation: [Web Link]

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MAMOUE visited The Hillsborough River - Charlottetown, PEI 6/21/2014 MAMOUE visited it
Mr. Packrat visited The Hillsborough River - Charlottetown, PEI 9/25/2013 Mr. Packrat visited it

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