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Grand River Forum


Hosted by Regional Tourism Organizations 1, 3, 4, and 6 - all that serve the shorelines and corridors of our magnificent Canadian Heritage River – a river that spans 310 km from the highlands of its source, Dufferin County at Dundalk to its mouth at Lake Erie.


The Grand River is a significant regional tourism asset that flows through the heart of Southern Ontario, providing opportunities for on-river and off-river market growth.

Each season we experience significant volumes of both visitors and local residents engaging with the Grand River. This watershed performs as a demand generator in the outdoor and recreational tourism sector and based on the quantity of operators providing recreational experiences, it is a proven asset to our visitor economy.

Recognizing the continued need for community and economic development, including the standardized upgrades to the Grand River experience. And, since our inaugural Grand River Forum in March of 2019, watershed RTOs have continued to work with stakeholders, business operators, communities, and leaders to improve the visitor readiness and build the stories that need to be shared.

We gathered to continue to learn, listen and grow, identifying opportunities, initiate discussions, share updates and successes, engage together, and ignite our path forward.


In-Person, Full-Day summit with Grand River Stakeholders

89 Registrations – representing 4 RTO regions:

  • RTO 6 - Central Counties Tourism
  • RTO 4 - Tourism and Innovation
  • RTO 3 - The Heart of Ontario
  • RTO 1 - Ontario’s Southwest Tourism

7 Speakers

  • Keynote Speaker, Thomas Ostapchuk, Documentary Film Maker “The Grand, from source to mouth”
  • Pam  Walther-Mabee, Grand River Conservation Authority
  • Anne Crowe, Grand Watershed Trails Network
  • Peter Smith, Community Play Project
  • Ellie Joseph and Jay Bailey, Two Row on the Grand
  • Davitt Woodwell, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
  • Dr. Christina Han, Wilfred Laurier Brantford, Associate Professor, History

Group Engagement:

Organizers invited attendees to submit their one-word answers to two key questions framed around Grand River visitor and user experience enhancements and about protecting and preserving the river. A Word Art was created for each question that revealed the one-word answers.

An open-mic session with Executive Directors from all four RTOs proved to be beneficial as many attendees asked pointed questions regarding the collective initiatives on Grand River development how we can move forward.

RTO3 Outcomes:

  • Need for continued collaboration between RTOs and stakeholders for Grand River Tourism Brand Development
  • River access enhancements and investment are a top priority
  • Conservation, preservation and protection – a look at creating a Grand River Pledge
  • A regional approach to RTO3 Middle River corridor, working with DMOs and Grand River stakeholders and business operators