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A River Through Time

30th Annual River Symposium | October 25th, 26th & 27th 2023








This FREE event will take place both online and in-person in Cornwall, ON, Canada.

For the past 30 years, the River Symposium has provided a platform for researchers, educators, policy-makers, community leaders and citizens to discuss the current ecological health of our freshwater ecosystems and explore issues and challenges facing large rivers and their watersheds. This sharing of knowledge is powerful as it leads to a better understanding of freshwater resources and ecosystems, as well as the development of strategies for renewal and protection.


For our 30th Anniversary, we hope to highlight the past, present and future of the St. Lawrence River, its tributaries and interconnected systems. We are happy to welcome a wide variety of presentations on themes including art, community stories/initiatives, Indigenous perspectives, and scientific studies of freshwater systems.


Wednesday, October 25th & Thursday October 26th


Friday, October 27th

Save the Date



The 2023 River Symposium will be held in person at the Cornwall Civic Complex on October 25th & 26th and a free lunch will be provided for the first 100 attendees who register!

Registrations will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis, we have a limited number of seats. For those unable to attend in person, this event will be streamed live on YouTube.

River Symposium 30th Anniversary Fundraiser Dinner


Join us October 25th 6:00pm at the Best Western Parkway Inn & Conference Centre for an evening celebrating the River Symposium’s 30th Anniversary! The event will include a cocktail hour, dinner, and entertainment. To attend, please click on the button below to register through eventbrite: 

The Fish Tank is back!


The River Institute is hosting our 4th Annual Fish Tank Competition which will take place October 25th and 26th at the Best Western in Cornwall. This free event is a chance for high school students to deep dive into the scientific method and learn how real scientists approach environmental problems. We are inviting teams of 2 students (accompanied by a teacher or parent chaperone) to participate in our Fish Tank workshops and case competition. Spaces are limited so register a team today!

Contact our Fish Tank coordinator Melanie by email at mayotte[at] to register or for more information.

Water Canada presents Downstream:
A speed networking event


In partnership with Water Canada, the River Symposium is hosting a Downstream speed networking event. This event provides students with the unique chance to connect with and learn from leading experts in the water industry.

Downstream offers students an invaluable opportunity to gain insights, ask questions, and explore career possibilities in this essential field. And it’s not just theoretical – it’s about practical solutions and sustainable strategies for the future of our precious water resources.

Plenary Talks

Variable St. Lawrence River Water Levels and the Need to Improve Planning: A Case for Adaptive Management

Tony David – Director, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division, U.S. Member of the International Lake Ontario St Lawrence River Board

Tony David volunteers as a Member the U.S. Section of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. His appointment by the International Joint Commission (IJC) began in 2017, coinciding with the approval of Plan 2014—an algorithm used to regulate Lake Ontario outflows by the Moses-Saunders dam. Public engagements that aim to improve understanding of the capabilities and limitations of this complex system is his top priority. 

Mr. David is currently the Director of the Environment Division of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. For more than 20 years, he’s worked to expand the role of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT)—where he is an enrolled Tribal member—to assess and restore Tribal natural resources.  In 2016, he led the decommission and removal of the Hogansburg Hydroelectric Project. As a result, SRMT became the first tribal nation to remove a licensed dam in the US. Its removal restored over 500 miles of tributary habitat with the St. Lawrence River and cleared policy obstacles for other tribes to take similar action. In 2017, he received the Environment Champion Award—the highest award granted to civilians by the USEPA.

Mr. David received a Master of Professional Studies from Cornell University, Department of Natural Resources (‘05) and a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo in Environmental Studies (’01).

The Upper St. Lawrence River: Linkages Between Habitats and Fisheries

Dr. John M. Farrell Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Science & Director, Thousand Islands Biological Station

Interrelationships between fish populations and their habitats play important roles in aquatic ecosystems. Fish move through critical periods that revolve around diverse life cycles, habitat shifts, and complex interactions including predation, species interactions and energy flow through food webs. The complexity is magnified when these interactions are placed in a riverine system that exists in a multi-dimensional space within their watersheds. The upstream-downstream (longitudinal) dimension has a key role in the transport and processing organic matter and nutrients, a lateral dimension includes interaction with the watershed and floodplains, a vertical dimension of depth has strong benthic and groundwater interactions, and the temporal dimension where a complex interaction of magnitude, rate, duration, frequency, and timing events in flows occurs. The flow regime of the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence system has regulated hydrology, invasive species, and changing climate that influences both habitat and biotic interactions. This contribution examines the upper St. Lawrence River fish community and other biota, with its linkages to coastal wetlands as a dynamic process involving both natural and human induced effects.

The St. Lawrence River: My Glass of Water

Nathalie Lasselin Underwater explorer and filmmaker, Aquanath Underwater Films

Nath Lasselin, filmmaker and underwater explorer, takes her exploration from the Arctic to the depths of caves in China, or to the tumultuous waters of the St. Lawrence River. Her films and expeditions bring to life her omnipresent quest to put into perspective our complex relationship with this aquatic world and, more broadly, our living environments. Through her lectures, she shares her discoveries and sheds light on obscure, enigmatic and inaccessible worlds. Between projects, she continues to work as a cinematographer on both fiction and documentaries, and acts as an expert on aquatic exploration in documentary series. She has been inducted as a WDHOF (women diver hall of fame) fellow of the Explorer Club and the Royal Geographical Society of Canada.

Our Changing River: Perspectives on 30 Years of River Institute Research

Dr. Jeff Ridal  – Executive Director, River Institute

Dr. Jeff Ridal is the Executive Director and Senior Research Scientist with the River Institute (RI).  As Executive Director, Jeff works with the leadership team at the River Institute to set the direction and manage the day to day activities of the River Institute.  In his Senior Research Scientist role, he provides insight and guidance to RI research on environmental contaminants and pathogens in St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes environments, as well as programs relating to environmental restoration and governance. Jeff teaches in the Environmental Technician program at St. Lawrence College, and is also an adjunct professor with the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s and Department of Biology at Ottawa University where he contributes to post-doctoral and graduate student supervision.


Organizing Committee

Georgia Bock


Emilie DeRochie


Leigh McGaughey

Stephany Hildebrand

Zach Zwanenburg

Erin Smith

Elsie Lewison

Lexy Harquail

Mackenzie Wylie-Arbic

Jennifer Jarvis

Emma Ridal

Christina Collard