Are You Allowed to Sail on Quebec’s Lakes and Rivers? 

In the News

With the summer sun shining down, it can be tempting to cool off in the water. Legally speaking, water is a shared resource, and the Quebec government owns many of the province’s lakes and rivers. In other words, you’re allowed to boat on them, as long as you respect certain rules.  

Don’t trespass on private property

People who own waterfront property have the right to stop you from using it to get to the lake or the river.  

The same rule applies once you’re on the water. You can’t come to shore on private property to take a walk or have a picnic, for example. 

You can access lakes or rivers using a public street or a public beach. Or you can ask waterfront property owners for permission to use their property.  

Respect applicable rules 

Did you know that there are municipal, federal and provincial rules for using lakes and rivers? In order to fully enjoy your time on the water, make sure you respect these rules.  

Municipalities can make certain rules about accessing the lakes and rivers within their territory. For example, some municipalities restrict access for people who aren’t residents of the municipality, set fees, or require you to clean your boat before putting it in the water. For more information about a specific municipality’s rules, you can visit its website. 

Federal and municipal rules may also stop you from using certain types of boats, like motorboats, on some lakes or rivers. If motorboats are allowed, you need a federal licence to drive one. Also, it’s a crime to drive a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Finally, provincial rules require you to use Quebec’s lakes and rivers in a way that respects everyone else who is using them. For example, you must not get in the way of other boats.