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There’s a great little day trip awaiting anyone who’s interested in finding a small bit of the wild in downtown Toronto.  It’s called the Humber River … who knew???  Put in at Étienne Brûlé Park, off Catharine Street just north of Bloor and paddle south to the lake.  Lots of cool stuff to see, including imagining what Brûlé, probably the first European to behold Lake Ontario, saw when he arrived at the exact same spot nearly 400 years ago. A crew from museum paddled this piece of the Humber on National Canoe Day  (it was actually an outing that was sold as a fundraiser at the Beaver Club Gala last fall) in bark canoes.  Helping to celebrate was CCM Piper-in-Residence, Helen Batten, who serenaded all and sundry with rousing renditions of the Paddling Piper’s Waltz and the Athol Highlander’s March. The National Canoe Day Humber Expedition was such a success that when a group of visitors from Siberia were in Toronto in September to celebrate Days of Sakha Yakutia Culture, their first outing in Canada was paddling the mighty Humber. Egor Makarov and his wife Marina had come to Toronto from their home in Yakutsk to launch a book and film about Siberian horses. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week I had my weather reporting skills doubted each and every day! What looked like a week of rain and poor weather turned out to be a gloriously sunny week.  Perfect weather for taking a canoeing course don’t you think?

That is just what I did.  I took part in a Big Canoe Leader course taught by Paddle Canada right here in Peterborough.  This course enabled our already safe and competent canoe leaders to gain a national certification in leading Big Canoes.  There are not a lot of these courses taking place in Ontario and so an instructor from British Columbia flew out to teach.   The Big Canoe program is definitely new with having only about 4 years under it’s belt but it is a very interesting program and certainly worth investing our time into.

What is Big Canoe you wonder? Big Canoes are those wondrously large canoes that have their historical roots in the Canada’s fur trade era.  Think 36′ Montreal canoe/canot du maitre or 26′ North Canoe/canot du nord.  Don’t have them in your mind yet? Check out the pics below.

Montreal Canoe built at The Canadian Canoe Museum

North Canoes at National Canoe Day in Peterborough

These boats are absolutely perfect vessels for carrying heavy loads of  cargo and more recently, these canoes are excellent vehicles for introducing non-paddlers (and already keen paddlers) to canoeing in a safe and accessible manner.  The Canoe Museum’s Big Canoes earn their keep at the Museum by taking out students in school groups, campers in our summer CanoeKids Paddling Camps, corporate team building groups, visitors from other countries, individuals and families with Peterborough’s New Canadians Center, as well as the general public at such outings as National Canoe Day, Ode’Min Giizis festival, re-enactment festivals, Queen Jubilee pageants and many more events to come in the future.
Interested in seeing what it is like to paddle a Big Canoe?  Contact the Canoe Museum and we’ll let you know the next time these big beautiful beasts are leaving the dock!!  All are invited, no matter what your level of experience is.

From a field near Merrickville to a parking lot in Peterborough, on long-term loan from Paddle Canada, a handsome pair of canot du nord just arrived at The Canadian Canoe Museum, via Seeley’s Bay, Ontario and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant in London, England!

Here’s what they looked like in mid-May.

It has been quite a transition!  (Even the trailer got a scrub down with wire brushes and a lick of new paint.)

They were welcomed to the museum with a thorough smudging and a toast from the Board of Directors (who had their June meeting in Five Bay) to make sure that all will be right as they move into service at the museum.

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After many air and river miles, Canada One/Un, the canoe that paddled for a Queen, has returned home. On her way to the Canadian Canoe Museum, where she will join the programming fleet in a new partnership between the museum and Paddle Canada, Canada One/Un made a stop in Seeley’s Bay, Ontario.

As well as being the home base of the CCM’s peripatetic Executive Director James Raffan, Seeley’s Bay is home to a number of good-spirited citizens who pitched in to help ready the canoe for her royal engagement. It seemed only fitting, therefore, that she and James would return the favour by helping them celebrate Canada Day which they did in fine style, if these pictures are anything to go by.

Welcome back and well done!

The Canoe Museum’s latest public endeavour was in Toronto at Sunnyside Beach for the MEC Paddlefest Toronto.  Mountain Equipment Coop is a large Canadian outdoor gear retailer that hosts a number of urban paddling festivals across the country.  This past weekend was in Toronto.  The Canoe Museum has been participating at the Paddlefests for 2 years now and each year the show gets better and better.

This year, we premiered our new kids’ craft “paint your own Paddle to the Sea”!  We also brought along one of the original Paddle to the Sea models used in the filming of the Bill Mason and NFB film ‘Paddle to the Sea‘.

Come check us out at other shows!

On Saturday June 23rd, we will be at Millenium Park, Peterborough for our National Canoe Day celebrations.

On Sunday June 24th, we will be at Paddlefest Burlington

On Saturday July 7th, we will be at Paddlefest Quebec City

On Sunday July 8th, we will be at Paddlefest Montreal

Monday, after a bit of a sleep-in, we headed downtown on the #23 double decker bus to see what was happening, which took us along the parade route that Her Majesty would follow on the way to church later on in the day.  Flags and people everywhere.  And, having rained itself silly on Sunday, the it was actually quite warm and we saw the sun a few times.

Can’t come to London without a little retail therapy on Oxford Street.

By, by far the best thing that happened was running into our Maori brothers from the river.  It had been such a madhouse at the takeout that we had lost track of each other and didn’t really get a chance to say a proper goodbye.

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We made the paper!

What an experience!!!  Almost as soon as we were off the water, our phones and traveling computers literally lit up with well wishes after the broadcast, many people admitting they got a bit teary to see a canoe from Canada—crewed by The Canadian Canoe Museum—on the Thames.  Looking at a most excellent series of photos taken by my cousin Jennifer Pelly’s husband, Marco Venelaar (who live here in London), it’s a wonder we didn’t bump or crash into more boats than we did.  Here’s Marco’s shot shows the kind of river traffic we were in while I was chatting with Peter Mansbridge on the phone (we’re one of the two red blobs between the Blackfriar’s bridges just left of the center of the photo).

It was pretty busy on the river at times!

So … as promised, the story of what happened after Tower Bridge.

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Canada One/Un in the middle of the action (Photo: Marco Venzelaar)

At the beginning of the week the BBC weather called for a very pleasant Sunday.  High 12, light winds and a 10% probability of precipitation.  However as the days marched on, that forecast degraded to colder temperatures, higher winds and a 90% POP.   When we awoke in our team rooms at the Frontline Club in Paddington, rain was pounding down on the skylights.

But it was pageant day and WE HAD A CANOE.  We had a canoe.  Proof, perhaps, that there is a god.  Everything else was detail.  Including the weather.

By the time we reassembled the team at the University of London Boat Club, the rain had let up and we were just in time to watch John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, come by to wish his team well.  It was neat to watch our new friend, Wakka Canoe Captain, Chappie Harrison, introduce his paddlers one by one to the PM.

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The Canada One/Un Brigade was together for the first time on Saturday, June 2nd at the University of London Boat Club on the Thames River just below Kew Bridge.  From l-r:  Terry Guest, Jeremy Ward, Donald Ross, Laurel Raffan, James Raffan, Melissa Murdoch, Pilar Bauta and Geordie Dalglish.  Terry  and Donald Ross are Canadian Canoe Museum board members.  Melissa, Pilar, and Geordie are long time supporters of the museum through the W. Garfield Weston Foundation and Laurel, who originally agreed to come along as a “roadie” to help with logistics and communications, got promoted to a paddler’s spot in the Canada One (after security clearance by the London Metropolitan Police aka “The Met” … no outstanding warrants for her arrest … phew!) when another colleague from the Weston Foundation had to withdraw.

So there we were, all together for the first time ready to have our first practice and dress rehearsal for the pageant.

The first thing we did was head down to Chiswick Boat House, a short distance downstream from the University of London Boat Club, to get individually accredited.

This involved presenting our Boarding Pass, which came from the Thames Jubilee Pageant Committee as proof of our successful security clearance from “The Met,” along with our passports and other photo ID.  When all was tickety-boo the marshall then snapped a wrist band on everyone, which was proof of our clearance to get on the river.

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Preparations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration continue as our Executive Director, James Raffan, visits the put-in point where ‘Canada One’ will enter the water for the Thames River Pageant.  Here’s the latest news from James in his words:

The crowds here are building.  Even stuffed animals are lining up to see what’s going on in greater London as the whole city prepares for Jubilee Weekend.

Almost twice as many London neighborhoods applied for road closures for street parties as they did for the Royal Wedding.


Our put-in point is well above the actual pageant route because even marshaling hundreds of boats to the mustering areas will be a challenge on the Thames.  We’re starting at the University of London Boat Club (ULBC), in Northwest London.  There are many ways to get around this city.  Tried one route from our team HQ near Paddington Station.  30 minutes train, 30 minutes double-decker bus, and 30 minutes on foot … not nearly as good as going home by train in another direction followed by a tube (subway) ride, 45 minutes in total.

Walking along the Thames footpath below Kew Bridge (where the window and bunting photos above were taken), I knew I was getting close to the boat club when this poster turned up on a railing …



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