Deep River, Ontario

Ottawa River Ontario Quebec
Deep River
Town of Deep River
Town Hall in Deep River
Town Hall in Deep River
Canada's Nuclear Pioneers
Deep River is located in Southern Ontario
Deep River
Deep River
Coordinates: 46°06′N 77°29.5′W / 46.100°N 77.4917°W / 46.100; -77.4917Coordinates: 46°06′N 77°29.5′W / 46.100°N 77.4917°W / 46.100; -77.4917
Country Canada
Province Ontario
 • MayorSuzanne D'Eon
 • Federal ridingRenfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke
 • Prov. ridingRenfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke
 • Land50.13 km2 (19.36 sq mi)
 • Total4,109
 • Density82.0/km2 (212/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern Standard Time (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern Daylight Time (EDT))
Postal code
K0J 1P0
Area code(s)613

Deep River is a town in Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada. Located along the Ottawa River, it lies about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north-west of Ottawa on the Trans-Canada Highway. Deep River is opposite the Laurentian Mountains and the Province of Quebec. The name Deep River purportedly derives from the fact that the Ottawa River reaches its greatest depth of 402 feet (123 m) just outside the township. However, the Ottawa River reaches a depth of 565 feet (172 m) in Moose Bay which is located on the Holden Lake section west of Deux-Rivières.

The primary industry centres on research at the Chalk River location of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a facility of the Chalk River Laboratories about 10 km east of Deep River on Highway 17. The facility is named for, and primarily accessed via, the nearby town Chalk River, although the site is technically in Deep River.


Plans for the construction of this planned community began in 1944 by the federal government as part of the Manhattan Project, to accommodate employees of the nearby Chalk River Nuclear Research Laboratories. Along with Los Alamos, New Mexico and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Chalk River was an offshoot of the nuclear effort for the allies and scientists, engineers, and tradesmen from around the world who came to work on the Manhattan Project. After World War II, Canada continued on with research into the atom, and dedicated the country to the peaceful uses that could be derived from putting the atom to use. Deep River was situated far enough upwind and upriver of the Chalk River research reactors to avoid radioactive fallout.

John Bland, an architecture professor at McGill University, developed the town's first master plan in 1944. Bland located the town between the existing Highway 17 and the Ottawa River. He designed a system of streets which generally followed the contours of the area's topography. Residential neighborhoods stretched out from a commercial and service-sector core. Straight and broad avenues ran along contour lines, while narrower and winding streets lay at right angles, discouraging non-local traffic from entering neighborhoods. Parks and schools were scattered strategically throughout the town. The streets were named after local flora, Canadian politicians and famous scientists such as Rutherford and Darwin.[2]

At the same time, its economy and development was further boosted by the construction of the Des Joachim Hydroelectric Generating Station and dam on the Ottawa River at Rolphton, which opened on June 28, 1950.[3]

The town was the subject of a Maclean's Magazine article in 1958 by the noted Canadian journalist, editor, and author Peter C. Newman. Entitled, "Deep River: Almost the Perfect Place to Live,"[4] the article took a sardonic take on the town as a very odd and isolated place populated by mostly young, male, highly educated and bored scientists and technicians struggling to find things to do with their time: "The Utopian town where our atomic scientists live and play has no crime, no slums, no unemployment and few mothers-in-law."

In 1962, the experimental Nuclear Power Demonstration or NPD power reactor started up as a prototype for later CANDU reactors. This was operated by Ontario Hydro, which later used it as a training facility for new employees in their Nuclear division. This brought many more temporary residents to the town.


Marina on the Ottawa River.

Deep River is located at a latitude of 46°06' north and longitude 77°30' west, in the Boreal Forest biozone, and has an area of 50.87 square kilometres. The town sits on the section of the Ottawa River referred to as "La Rivière Creuse" (the "Deep River") by 17th-century French explorers, and which later was at the heart of Canada's 19th-century timber trade.

Recreation, arts and culture

Deep River boasts many active clubs.[5] Among the numerous community accomplishments is the creation of the Deep River Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1951, making Deep River one of the smallest towns to have a symphony orchestra. The Deep River Choral Group, and Deep River Community Band also host multiple concerts every year. Cross-country skiing is a popular winter recreation. Avid skiers of the Deep River Cross-Country Ski Club[6] created the Silver Spoon trails and an annual race that brings contestants from across Ontario. Another popular event is Summerfest, a festival held once every two years, hosting many local and famous artists including Sloan, Wide Mouth Mason, Amanda Wilkinson, Daniel Lanois, Mobile, and K'naan. The festival also organizes many recreational events, including the Cross-River Swim. Deep River is generally known to have picturesque scenery, excellent boating along the broad river, and good hiking in the hills across the Ottawa River. Deep River also has a community pool, fire department, police department, ski hill, golf course, curling rink, yacht club, and a library.

Deep River is home to two museums; The Canadian Clock Museum, home to an extensive collection of clocks from The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company, and the Society for the Preservation of Canada's Nuclear Heritage, founded in 2017, which collects, safeguards, and promotes documents, artifacts, memorabilia, and knowledge associated with the history of the Canadian nuclear industry.


The town's population reached its historical high at about 5,800 in the mid-1970s. Downsizing and decreased funding at CRNL followed the 1979 Three Mile Island incident. It has evolved into a popular retirement community.


Deep River was last home to four schools in 2005, for students from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12:

The Deep River Summer Music Camp[13] attracts around 100 students for a two week day-camp every summer.

The Deep River Science Academy hosted university and high-school students in creating numerous science projects in cooperation with many of the knowledge-economy enterprises of the area. The Academy ceased operations in 2016[14].



Deep River's weekly, The North Renfrew Times,[15] has been published by the Deep River Community Association[16] since the Town's earliest days.


Deep River is served by a low-power FM repeater of Ottawa's CBC Radio station, CBO-FM:

All other stations that may be heard in Deep River broadcast from Pembroke, Ontario. See radio stations in the Ottawa Valley Region and Quebec.

Film and TV

Deep River has achieved a degree of notoriety in the films of David Lynch. As well as being referenced in Blue Velvet, the town is specifically mentioned in Mulholland Drive, Lynch's surreal film about a young actress struggling to cope in Hollywood. Naomi Watts plays a character named Betty at the beginning of the film.

Betty: "I just came here from Deep River, Ontario, and now I'm in this ... dream place. You can imagine how I feel."

The Independent Zombie movie Deep River the Island, Produced by Ben Bachelder was also filmed in and around the town, using many local residents in the film.

Vanessa Sears is an actress who grew up in Deep River, and has found success on stage in Stratford, Ontario as well as a number of small parts on TV shows including Suits.

See also


  1. ^ a b Statistics Canada 2011 Census - Deep River Census Profile
  2. ^ Melvin, Joan. 1995. Deep River: A Pictorial History - 1945 to 1995. DFR Printing, Pembroke, Ontario.
  3. ^ Ontario Power Generation: Des Joachim Hydroelectric Station Archived 2012-03-24 at the Wayback Machine, accessed: 2008-02-24
  4. ^ Peter C. Newman (1958-09-15). "Deep River: Almost the Perfect Place to Live". Macleans. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  5. ^ Deep River Community Association. "DRCA Member Clubs". Archived from the original on 2005-04-07.
  6. ^ Town of Deep River. "Deep River Cross-Country Ski Club". Archived from the original on 2008-03-12.
  7. ^ "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 21, 2017.
  8. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  9. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  10. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  11. ^ "Mackenzie Community School". Renfrew County District School Board. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  12. ^ "St. Mary's (Deep River)". Renfrew County Catholic District School Board. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "Deep River Summer Music Camp". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  14. ^ https://www.facebook.com/DRScienceAcademy/posts/1310538779009539
  15. ^ The North Renfrew Times
  16. ^ "The Deep River Community Association". Archived from the original on 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2005-04-09.