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As you may have heard, The Canadian Canoe Museum is exploring the feasibility of moving to a new on-the-water location in downtown Peterborough. We care deeply about our audience, our community and our supporters and we want to hear your thoughts about our future.
Join us on Wednesday May 8th from 7:00 to 9:00pm to hear an update about this exciting idea and engage in a lively discussion. We need your help to reach our goal of being a locally-loved and nationally-significant cultural heritage institution on the waterfront in downtown Peterborough. Refreshments will be served. Call 705.748.9153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to R.S.V.P.
If you can’t join us in person, you can call (705.748.9153), write (The Canadian Canoe Museum, 910 Monaghan Road, Peterborough, ON K9J 5K4) or email (email@example.com) to tell us what you think. We will also be setting up an online way for you to share your thoughts–stay tuned for a separate announcement. Your participation is important to us, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Late last year, we posted a blog entry about a wonderful new partnership that the Canoe Museum has been developing with the Fleming College Museum Management and Curatorship program by providing hands-on training in exhibit design and production. That partnership is about to pay off in a big way. Each year, the students work with a community partner to design, fabricate and install a new exhibit. For 2013, the project is the Peterborough Fire Service’s west-end station at 839 Clonsilla Avenue.
The students put all of the skills and knowledge we passed on to them last fall to use in designing all of the graphic panels for this new exhibit and a short time ago they came back to the Museum to print and mount the graphics. Having worked with them both in their classroom at Fleming College and in the Museum’s own exhibit studio, I am delighted to say that they have done professional-quality work and should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. It has been a real pleasure to work with them and Gayle McIntyre and Deb Scott, their instructors.
On July 1st, 1997, The Canadian Canoe Museum opened its doors at 910 Monaghan Road in Peterborough, Ontario in the former head office of the Outboard Marine Corporation (Canada). Since then, hundreds of thousands of visitors young and old from across Canada and around the world have enjoyed the Museum’s unique portrait of Canada and its unparalleled collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. While there’s no question that the site has been a great incubator for the Museum and has let us get on our feet, it’s not the best place for the long term. Why not?
Every so often, we come across a canoe here at the Museum that raises more questions than it answers. Last summer, a donor brought this interesting boat to our attention.
Here’s what stood out for us when we first looked at it:
- It is very lightly built, almost more like a rowing shell than a canoe, with a 1/8″ veneer hull and sawn frame/batten seam construction;
- It once had fabric decks, and there are still scraps of varnished linen attached to some of the deckbeams;
- The cockpit area has a very wide, flaring coaming that adds several inches to the boat’s beam; and
- It was probably used for flatwater sprint racing.
What we didn’t know was what class or type of canoe it was.
There are lots of things that make Peterborough an ideal place to run a canoe museum, including lots of water, plenty of canoes and a rich history of canoe manufacturing. It also has another important resource for us in the form of Fleming College, home of the Museum Management and Curatorship and Collections Conservation and Management programs. Faculty and students from these programs have been involved with the Museum since it opened in 1997 and they have contributed substantially to the Museum’s success.
Two years ago, students worked with Curator, Jeremy Ward and Artisan Program Coordinator, Beth Stanley to create the exhibit Walter Walker: A Life in Canoes. One of the outcomes of that project was a discussion about how the Museum could get more involved in helping the next generation of museum workers learn their trade. This led to a pilot workshop in 2011 in which General Manager, John Summers taught computer lab classes at Fleming College in which students used Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign to each create a sample exhibit panel which was then printed and mounted in the Museum’s Dembroski Exhibit Studio. For 2012 this institutional partnership was formalized by creating a new Fleming course called ARTS1829, Exhibit Panel Design.
When we began this blog for the museum, there was some concern about how we would keep it going. Some of the staff and volunteers asked “What should I write about?” and voiced a concern that they didn’t really have anything to say. “Relax,” I said, using my manager voice. “Just write about what you do at the museum.” When you look at the past 75 or so posts, I think that’s worked pretty well. No problem if you work with artifacts, or kids, or go on exotic jaunts to the UK to paddle for the Queen. But what about those “who only stand and wait,” as the poet said, or in this case, merely manage? Well, I’m going to take my own advice and write about what I do at the museum, so here’s a blog about the budget!
There’s a little village a couple of hours east of Peterborough that has a special affection for the Canadian Canoe Museum. In fact, even though some of the residents of this village have not yet made the journey to visit the Museum, many of them have a wee sense of ‘ownership’ nonetheless. That is because the residents of Seeley’s Bay proudly helped with the ‘sea trials’ of Canada One this year, before she went off to do us all proud on the Thames.
Well, more importantly, it is also because the Executive Director of the Museum (we call him Jim) lives here. So when Raffan called upon his fellow local citizens to help fix up the canoe, test drive her, and christen her, we were all ‘ready aye ready’. Heck, when we heard that CBC’s The National was sending a film crew to capture the test run, we even called out the local volunteer fire brigade, to make sure Raffan and crew could handle the fireboat sprays anticipated on the Thames.
Anyhow, all of you know about the wonderful journey of Canada One – the airlift from Trenton, the frustrated lorry driver, the lack of opportunity for the crew to practice, the pouring rain, but most of all, the immense pride of Canadians who watched that wonderful canoe in the Flotilla paddled by eight beautifully costumed voyageurs. But what you may not know is that the story did not end there for the people of Seeley’s Bay.
Some days, it’s too windy to go out on the water. Some days, the water is just plain frozen. Some days, it’s too hot and some days, you just plain don’t feel like it. When this happens, it can be almost as much fun to read about paddling as it is to do it. Here are three things to read that I think you will enjoy.
The history of the canoe building companies that were a significant part of the economic life of Peterborough, Ontario, for more than one hundred years is as rich and tangled a story as you’re likely to find in Canadian business history. Invention, entrepreurship, patents, lawsuits, rivalries, mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies and catastrophic fires: it’s a tale that has all this and more. It is also a complicated story, and those who are interested in canoeing history, Canadian history, Canadian business history and the story of how the city of Peterborough, Ontario came to be synonymous around the world with the canoe will have a much easier time figuring it out after they have read Peterborough author Ken Brown’s 2011 book: The Canadian Canoe Company & the early Peterborough Canoe Factories.
Four years ago, the Museum was thinking about how it could create an event that was relevant to our mission and collections and would also offer people a chance to support us in a relatively painless and enjoyable way (with fun being the sugar-coating on the fundraising pill). We knew what we didn’t want–we didn’t want another one of those events that you go to because you have to, and as soon as you know you’ve been seen, and before you’ve even finished your rubber chicken and long before the frozen cheescake with glutinous cherries on top arrives, you’re heading out the door to do something really important, like watching re-runs of Friends.
So if we weren’t going to do that, what were we going to do? One way to throw a party that’s relevant to a historical organization is to find a historical party, and that’s just what we went searching for. We didn’t have to look to far, because one of the biggest social events in 18th century Canada was right in front of us, almost. Enter the Beaver Club Gala, and the famous slightly off-the-wall CCM esprit de corps, and also a wild boar’s head with an apple in its mouth.