Spanish River (Ontario)

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Spanish ON 2.jpg
Mouth of the Spanish River at the Town of Spanish
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Source Biscotasi Lake
 - location Unorganized Sudbury, Sudbury District
 - coordinates 47°17′40″N 82°00′00″W / 47.29444°N 82.00000°W / 47.29444; -82.00000
Secondary source Alligator Lake
 - location Unorganized Sudbury, Sudbury District
 - coordinates 47°25′35″N 81°51′54″W / 47.42639°N 81.86500°W / 47.42639; -81.86500
Source confluence
 - location Unorganized Sudbury
 - coordinates 47°02′15″N 81°51′12″W / 47.03750°N 81.85333°W / 47.03750; -81.85333
Mouth North Channel (Lake Huron)
 - location Spanish, Algoma District
 - coordinates 46°11′04″N 82°18′41″W / 46.18444°N 82.31139°W / 46.18444; -82.31139Coordinates: 46°11′04″N 82°18′41″W / 46.18444°N 82.31139°W / 46.18444; -82.31139
Length 338 km (210 mi)
Basin 14,000 km2 (5,000 sq mi)
 - average 150 m3/s (5,300 cu ft/s)
Location of the mouth of the Spanish River in Ontario

The Spanish River is a river in Algoma District, Sudbury District and Greater Sudbury in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. It flows 338 kilometres (210 mi) in a southerly direction from its headwaters at Spanish Lake (west branch) and Duke Lake (east branch) to its mouth at the North Channel on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron just outside the community of Spanish.

The river is located almost entirely within the Sudbury District, except for brief passages into the city of Greater Sudbury near the communities of High Falls and Turbine and the river mouth in Algoma District.

Tributaries include Pogamasing Creek, Mogo Creek, Agnes River, the Aux Sables River, the Vermilion River and the Wakonassin River.

The river's name and the name of the nearby towns of Espanola and Spanish are said to be due to French explorers and Jesuit priests encountering Ojibwe peoples speaking Spanish in the area, apparently as a result of a Spanish woman having been taken captive during an expedition far to the south.

The Lower Spanish River Forest houses the world's oldest red pine and white pine forests, and much of that is under provincial protection, in the form of provincial parks and reclamation acts.


Spanish River and Domtar Mill in Espanola

This river has been used as a transportation corridor for thousands of years, first by First Nations and later in the 19th century by fur traders. During the late 19th and mid 20th centuries, it was used to transport timber from logging camps in the upper Sudbury District to Georgian Bay, where they were towed by tugs to sawmills on the Great Lakes. Until the mid-1960s pulp wood, mainly jack pine, was driven down the river to the paper mill at Espanola. A diesel tug towed large rafts of logs the length of Agnew Lake to big Eddy dam where they were sluiced down a flume by crews with hand held pike poles. Secondary flumes took them past the High Falls and Nairn Falls power plants and on to Espanola. The sap and bark from the pulp logs was a major pollution source in the lower river.

Today the river is mainly used for recreational canoeing and has been protected as a waterway provincial park. All park sites and portages are currently maintained by park staff. There are four hydroelectric dams on the river: one, known as Big Eddy, above High Falls forming Lake Agnew; High Falls dam about a kilometer below Big Eddy dam; Nairn Falls dam about 12 km below High Falls and the other at the Domtar mill in Espanola.

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