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Summer is drawing to a close and that can mean only one thing…Back to School! Whether you are a parent, student or teacher this time of year probably has special significance for you.

Here at the Museum back to school means that our exciting hands-on school programs are back up and running full force. There’s nothing we like better than a museum full of kids exploring and making lots of noise in our galleries. If you have never taken part in one of our school programs before you can check out our wide array of offerings here.  For those of you who have taken part in our school programs in the past you will be excited to learn that we have officially added two new programs to our roster this year: Full Size Paddle Carving for youth ages 15-18, and Canoes Count, a fun and interactive program for JK/SK classes.

June Paddle Carving

June Paddle Carving

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You may or may not know that Peterborough’s Fleming College offers two post-graduate diplomas in Museum related fields. One in Museum Management and Curatorship, and the other in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management. Every year Fleming releases a new cohort of students into museums across the country and a few (including myself!) have been lucky enough to land here at the Canoe Museum. In fact, it was through my internship with the Fleming Museum Management and Curatorship program that I eventually ended up being hired on here at the Museum.

That's me during my internship at the Museum last summer.

That’s me cleaning away during my internship at the Museum last summer.

We are very lucky to have access to this pool of highly interested and engaged volunteers. Each year we end up with a handful of awesome and dedicated Museum studies volunteers who want to explore different areas of Museum life. Read the rest of this entry »

Members of the Gordon family have been building canoes in and around Lakefield, ON since the mid 1800s.  Thomas Gordon started the Thomas Gordon Canoe Co. in the 1850s and he began a family tradition that continues to this day.

When we had two Gordon watercraft, one canoe and one skiff, donated to our collection a couple years ago by John Gordon (great grandson of Thomas Gordon) we knew it wouldn’t be long before we would put them on exhibit.

smaller hooke 8 5 x 7 85 filter

Thomas Gordon (foreground) working on a canoe.
Photo courtesy of Kathy Hooke.

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We have spent enough time blogging that we are starting to feel familiar with the various people and voices floating around out there in the blogosphere. The wonderful thing about the internet is being able to connect with so many paddling and outdoors enthusiasts from around the world (and some in our own backyard). We’re always learning something new.

So without further ado….drumroll please….we present:

The Canoe Museum’s Top Ten Must-Read Blogs of 2013
(…so far, and in no particular order)

1. Exploring Ontario by Canoe

exploring ontario by canoe

For those of you interested in paddling in Ontario this blog is a must-visit! Packed with a cornucopia of tips, tricks, advice, recipes, fun facts, trip planning resources and gear recommendations this blog is a great resource for people interested in exploring Ontario’s abundant waterways and parks.   Check out this latest entry: Top 10 Tips I Forget Not Everyone Knows for some helpful hints that might make your next adventure run a little more smoothly.

2. Paddle Making (and other canoe stuff)

murat hardar

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If you happened by the Canoe Museum on Saturday you know what I’m talking about! The Museum was humming with energy and excitement as visitors, vendors, boat enthusiasts and Museum supporters took part in the day’s activities.


Aerial view of the parking lot.

man and son

Enjoying the sites.

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With so many social media options floating around in cyber space these days, it’s sometimes hard to know which ones will help you develop relationships with your visitors and audience.

We have been avid Facebook and Twitter users over here at the Museum for a couple of years now, and as you well know, we are frequent bloggers. However, our website redevelopment project has brought to the table a whole new range of social media tools that can help us connect more often, and more meaningfully, with those who care about us.

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The Peterborough Canoe Company of course!

By now I’m sure you’re aware that we have some surprising and unusual items in our collection, but did you know that The Canadian Canoe Museum is home to a collection of cross-country and down-hill skis?

Skis were an easy cross over product for local canoe companies in the early-mid 20th century.  Local builders like the Peterborough Canoe Company, and the Chestnut Canoe Company already had the equipment, suppliers and skilled workers required to steam, bend and manipulate wooden planks. Although many canoe companies were making winter products, the Museum’s ski collection is comprised mostly of Peterborough Canoe Company Skis constructed primarily of ash or hickory (considered superior for its flexibility and strength).

Museum skis

Peterborough Canoe Company Skis from the Museum’s collection. The pair on the far right are made of hickory.

museum ski boots

Ski Boots C.1926

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Olympic fever has hit the Canoe Museum! With all the excitement of the Games, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of the Olympic memorabilia in our collection.

A research request recently brought this object front and centre, and we couldn’t be more pleased!  Not only is this paddle visually appealing, but like most objects in our collection it tells an interesting story that provides a glimpse into our paddling past.


In 1952 American C1 paddler Frank Havens travelled to Helsinki to compete in the Olympic Games. The son of Bill Havens, another outstanding American canoeist, Frank had previously competed at the 1948 Games, held in London.

Frank brought three paddles with him to Helsinki. During his first week of training on the Olympic course Frank found that two of his paddle blades had developed pressure cracks. Luckily the Finnish team had brought a wood worker with them, and Frank was able to deliver his damaged blades to the Finns for repair.  Unluckily, in the week before Frank’s event was about to take place his last paddle blade broke. More bad news came in the form of an ill Finnish wood worker who was unable to complete any paddle repairs.

The American tandem team had spare blades, but they were too short for Frank’s purposes. In the Canadian camp, Earl “Doc” Whittall had heard of Frank’s dilemma and loaned him a 72 inch blade that he used for steering “war” canoes. The blade was too long, and too heavy, but suitable for training purposes until Frank could find something better.


Doc Whittall. Circa 1945.


On the day before Frank’s race, the Finnish wood worker was still too ill to perform any repairs and Frank was stuck up the figurative creek…without the literal paddle. Desperate, Frank asked Doc if he had a 69 inch paddle that he could borrow for the race. Doc responded by loaning Frank his own personal blade from the Lachine Canoe Club in Quebec, a 69 inch Clement paddle with the name “DOC” in bold black letters, and red and white stripes on the blade.


Frank Havens on the day of the 10, 000 metre race.


Frank used the Canadian blade in the 10, 000 metre C1 race on July 27, 1952. Not only did Frank win, he also set the world and Olympic record of 57.41.4. After the event Frank took the paddle back to Doc to thank him. Doc was as pleased with the results as Frank was, and gifted him the paddle, telling him that he “had earned it”.

The Canoe Museum is lucky to hold this emblem of the Olympic spirit in its collection, and to be able to tell the story of the American canoeist with the Canadian blade who paddled for Gold.


Frank Havens setting a new world and Olympic record as he paddles to victory with Doc’s Canadian blade.




Photo of Earl “Doc” Whittall courtesy of

Black andWhite Photo of Frank Havens courtesy of Sports Illustrated:

All other photos copyright the Canadian Canoe Museum.