Today is Canadian Rivers Day, and as water features heavily in book 1 of the Magorian & Jones series, The Memory of Water, and I’m sitting north of the 48th parallel, I feel I can’t let the day go by without a mention of rivers in general and Canadian rivers in particular.
Quite apart from the fact that rivers were instrumental in the process of civilization (they provided food, shelter, transport, trade routes and places of worship; stones, sand and mud for construction; and directions out of the wilderness to those who were lost) they’re interesting in and of themselves.
Nearly half of Canada’s fresh water drains to the north, into the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and James Bay, at a flow rate per second that is four times that of the Niagara Falls.
The Columbia river (which gives British Columbia its name) flow south, following the Canadian Rockies, and passing through Washington and Oregon, before reaching the sea, where it is a mighty river that helped open up the interior of those states in the Victorian era.
The longest river in the world is the Nile, and it runs through eleven countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo — which also happens to be the location of the headwaters for the Zambezi river (and features in The Memory of Water).
But the Amazon, (second longest) as the world’s greatest plume. It pushes fresh water out over 100 miles beyond the coast of Brazil. In the era of sail, sailors would rely on the freshwater plume to renew their water barrels by dropping buckets over the side of the ship and hauling up fresh water in the middle of the ocean, as they passed by Brazil.
Every continent on earth has rivers, including the Antarctic (Onyx River).
Only 18 countries have no rivers within their borders. Bangladesh has over 700 rivers.
And possibly one of the coolest things about rivers: There is a water bridge crossing the Elbe river in Germany, that actually lets ships cross the river.
One of the most powerful earthquakes recorded in US history, the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812, were so powerful that they reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, rang church bells in Boston, and cracked sidewalks in Washington D.C.
The Imjin River in South Korea is nicknamed ‘river of the dead’ because large numbers of dead North Koreans have floated down it.
A Slovenian man named Martin Strel has swum the complete lengths of the Danube River (Europe), the Mississippi River (USA), the Yangtze River (China), and the Amazon River (South America).
There is evidence of an underground river 4 km beneath the Amazon that may be as long as the Amazon (6,000 km) and hundreds of times wider.
Some fun facts for your Sunday!