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Over these past few weeks, The Canadian Canoe Museum has enjoyed a far-too-brief visit from Will Meadows. A deserving recipient of the Watson Fellowship, Will is spending the year “pursuing his passion” which happens to be traditional canoe building in a global context. Here are some reflections he left behind as he continues his way, most recently in New Zealand and now headed for Norway. For more on this topic and to learn more about this remarkable person check out his own blog.IMG_5887

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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.

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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.

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This blog post was inspired by this funny little image that our General Manager, John Summers, emailed to me the other day.   I’ve often stumbled upon the same image while lurking around on the internet, usually while doing strange combination-searches for things canoe-related and things knitting-related.  Here it is:

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This crafty pattern made me think.  A ‘Crocheted Barbie Canoe’ might not be very practical – but, there’s definitely something fun about it.  So what happens when you combine canoeing stuff and DIY stuff?  Well, keep reading and you’ll see some unique examples!  (by the way, you might still have time to purchase the Crochet Canoe pattern on Ebay!) Read the rest of this entry »

Attendees at the Saturday evening portion of the 2013 Wilderness Canoe Symposium in Toronto were treated to a presentation by Madam Zoom, aka Dr. Wendy Cecil, 13th Chancellor of Victoria University and much admired board member of The Canadian Canoe Museum.  Before transforming into character, Dr. Cecil explained that everyone has an alter-ego and that hers is a teacher who headed to the Klondike in the 1890s to take up her position as mistress of the school in Dawson City.  Mightily inspired by the chorus line at Diamond Tooth Gerties, and more inclined—or so it would seem—to boas rather than books, “Madam Zoom,” who comes alive on northern canoe trips, has lived on into the 21st Century.  She has some interesting and inspiring things to say about the value of canoe tripping, particularly for Canada’s youth. The following is a summary of her remarks presented to a packed auditorium in Monarch Park High School on Saturday, February 16th.

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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).

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

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Ski Boots C.1926

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Sunday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and Peterborough residents love this celebration. The annual parade attracts over 10,000 spectators and the local pubs prepare for a day of Irish cheer! I was curious if there were any “green” paddling events as part of the festivities and although I couldn’t find anything local – probably because of our Peterborough weather – I did find a few events in warmer climates.  The most interesting celebration I found was in Chicago – the river is actually dyed green!  This tradition has been going on for over 40 years – what a novel way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

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Perhaps the Canoe Museum can start this tradition in Peterborough once we move to the water!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Well, I feel compelled to inform many of you of something that I am sure that you are unaware of.  I am referring to the renowned and loved Jacques the Voyageur (labelled as adult collectible) currently on sale in the Museum’s Store, which is proof that technology was alive and well and living in the 1800’s.

To prove this fact I draw your attention to the talents, drawbacks, trials, demands and tribulations that will be needed to become a true voyageur, this appears on the left side of the opened cover.  This position requires bravery and willingness to undergo a grueling life with long periods away from kith and kin.

And….guess….where the final paragraph advises all you intrepid adventurers to apply for this position???  Behold it is a WEBSITE, yes a http://www.com WEBSITE, so there you have it..Hi-Tec in the 1800’s.

I rest my case.