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Peterborough Canoe Company 1904 skiff half model

Peterborough Canoe Company 1904 skiff half model

In the world of boat building, the classical method of developing a new hull design (i.e. no software) begins with the designer precisely carving a scale model of one-half of the intended shape. The sculpted results can then be studied, evaluated and easily adjusted until the discerning eye is pleased in every possible way with the model’s shape and anticipated performance.

This half model is then sawn into pieces or, more typically, was carved out of an assembled stack of planks. Disassembled, the shape of each horizontal plank (or waterline) is transferred onto another surface to be scaled up full size to develop the patterns or forms for the boat proper. I cannot think of a cleverer or more elegant method of facilitating the dialogue between designer and builder as they come to an understanding about something as complex and curvy as a boat.

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The waterfall by the entrance at the museum.

The waterfall by the entrance at the museum.

There is a lot more to The Canadian Canoe Museum then canoes. I know sounds funny, but it’s all true! In the museum we have a few things to look at that aren’t all based on canoes. For example, the Wigwam, Preserving Skills Gallery, and the Kirk Wipper Exhibit to name a few are all wonderful pieces. Even the waterfall as you walk in is a nice sight! Although, one of these pieces that I absolutely love to see every time I am in would be the wigwam. The wigwam here at the Museum was created in 2001 by two wonderful people. A staff member and volunteer worked very hard together in creating the wigwam for viewers to enjoy, and I must say it looks great! Read the rest of this entry »

What a year! Thanks to the support of members, donors, and volunteers, this 15th year of The Canadian Canoe Museum’s operation in Peterborough, Ontario, has been one of the most intense and rewarding periods in its history so far.

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It’s a snow day. Personally, that means my daughter made her first snow angel of the year on our walk to school, and that I finally made an appointment to get my winter tires on.  Here in the Education Department that means early morning surveillance of the school bus website, cell phone communications with today’s visiting teachers, and wake up calls to program staff to say, stay in bed — or go play in the snow — Albert College has to postpone their trip. And now the Galleries seem strangely empty and quiet with mere adults (!) exploring our exhibits: oh, I know they’re into it, but they don’t tend forget to use their “walking feet” and “indoor voices” quite as often as kids who are engaged in the scavenger hunts, discovery activities and games included in our school programs here.


Yesterday’s kids from Queen Elizabeth PS, really into it:

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Green Gift Ideas

Have you started thinking about your Holiday shopping yet?  If you’re like me you have people on your list who are EASY to buy for, and if you’re like me they’re the people you buy for first.  Then (again, if you’re like me) you get the mid-December panic when you realize the only people you have left on your list are the HARDEST people to buy for.

So I’ve come up with four gift ideas that are not only perfect for that hard-to-buy-for person, but they’re also GREEN! Read the rest of this entry »

ORU folding kayak

ORU folding kayak

Determining a useful boundary between what has historically been deemed a kayak rather than a decked, double-paddle canoe is something of a messy task and won’t be the goal of this short piece. Suffice it to say that, 150 years ago, the kayak was pretty much a boat made by and paddled almost exclusively by the Inuit. Meanwhile, the popularity of canoeing in the late nineteenth-century had caused the development of umpteen patented methods of shaping wood into the complex, curved forms required for a canoe (whether open or decked).  Outside of its original Arctic context, efforts at commercial kayak construction continued to experiment well within sight its Inuit root, relying upon a waterproof skin stretched tight by an internal frame even well into the 20th century. Read the rest of this entry »

very small canoe with caption

When I walked through the door of the Canadian Canoe Museum in August of 2008, I had no idea what I was getting into. OK, maybe that’s not 100% true. I knew that the CCM had an amazing collection of canoes and kayaks and I knew about the Museum’s history at Kandalore and at Monaghan Road. I had even seen the canoes in the log building at Camp Kandalore back in the mid 1980s. Those were the facts of the story. I knew a little about what the Canoe Museum was, but I didn’t have any idea who the museum was. Now I do.

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Dogs at Museum

Left to right: Booker, Keppler, Cookie and Zoe. Absent from this photos is Riley.
Jen Burnard is kindly handing out treats for the well-behaved!

About a week ago now the Museum’s office hallway had a different sound in it, the distinct sound (and smell?) of dogs!  Our dog-loving General Manager, John Summers suggested we initiate the ‘bring-your-dog-to-work-day’.   And so we had Cookie the Golden Retriever (John Summers), Zoe the Bernese Mountain Dog (Carolyn Hyslop), Riley the Black Lab (Stacey Reynolds), Keppler the Saint Berner (Jessica Lapp), and Booker the Northern Husky x Sheppard (Jen Burnard)!  It was funny because all of these are generally large-breed dogs and aside from Cookie who acted at times like their auntie, these ‘large’ dogs are all under 3 years-Imagine the energy!  They were rambunctious, energetic, playful and but considering their age and circumstances, surprisingly well-behaved for a pack of pups-no fights broke out thank goodness and there were no time-outs for bad behaviour.  A few highlights to the day that make me smile: Keppler has an awesome appetite and kept eating Zoe’s food, Booker needed to mark his new territory in the hallway (!),  Cookie told Keppler to ‘get lost’ when Keppler tried to follow Cookie back into his office, Riley played with many plastic water bottles which turned her office into a loud area and drove their office mates bonkers and Keppler’s drool gave Zoe’s fur a lovely glisten! Read the rest of this entry »


First of all, you might ask “What is a Limberjack?” A Limberjack is a loose-limbed dancing doll! One version of the Limberjack’s origins describes a seventeenth-century puppeteer having broken the strings to one of his marionettes while performing. Thinking quickly, he mounted a stick into the puppet’s back and used a wooden shingle for him to dance on, much to the delight of his audience. The rest is, as they say, folk history. Read the rest of this entry »

title slide

Each year, the Ontario Museum Association puts on a conference where those of us in the business, and those who would like to be in the business, gather to talk about the professional issues of the day. The theme for 2013 is “Culture: Taking Charge.” I’ve been asked to be a panelist in a session called “Paradigm Shifts: The Challenge of Doing Things Differently.” The panelists have been asked to think about a major change, issue or crisis that has confronted their institution and reflect on how they dealt with it.

Two challenges came immediately to mind for the Canadian Canoe Museum, and the more I thought about them the more they seemed to be related.

Challenge #1: Our collection of more than 600 canoes, kayaks and watercraft is national in scope and includes watercraft from every province and territory. Our ambitions are also national in scope, and we want to be engaged with Canadians and visitors across the country. One typical way to do this is through membership. But, one of the benefits of membership in a museum is often free admission. How does that work if you live 1500km away from the institution? Is there a way to deliver enough value to members to make it worthwhile to join even if they never visit in person?

5-bay without pins

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