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Summer – something many of us in Canada look forward to all year long and I’m no exception.JS NCD 2012 03 - 650 pixels I always love that first warm and sunny day of the season when people instantly seem to be in a better mood because of the nicer weather. For many of us, summer means vacations or weekend getaways.

packed-carPacking up the car or truck – trying to find the right combination of ‘Tetris’ pieces so that everything actually does fit into the vehicle (or on top). Hitting the road for camping or cottage weekend adventures, or to experience a never visited or much loved attraction or summer festival. I’ve noticed that during the summer months, it’s hard to drive on a highway without seeing a vehicle with a canoe or kayak strapped on top (sometimes both) or find a lake without a seeing a canoe or kayak gliding through the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Day 2013 artist smallWe’ve recently written about several interactive art pieces we were excited to be installing in our galleries. In wonderfully different ways, each of the three artists had found inspiration in the canoe for their creation and these installations also served as inspiration for the range of programming on offer to over a hundred families that joined us at the museum yesterday for Family Day. Read the rest of this entry »

Perhaps it is because of their elegant silhouette or likely it is due to the strong and complex associations we have with them that canoes have unwittingly inspired many artistic efforts over the past century or so. Indeed, the elegant pictograph left on a rock face near Pictured Lake in northern Ontario and which was adopted by the Canadian Canoe Museum as its logo takes us back much farther than that.

Some months ago, we became aware of a local artist who had incorporated a full-sized canoe to serve as the frame for a monster of a kettledrum. For his prototype, artist David Hynes had sewn a number of hides together and laced them over the hull of a 16-foot Grumman to provide a whimsical but very engaging, interactive piece. To the eye, the organic shape of the stretched skin and the pattern of its lacing contrasted strikingly with the symmetrical (if slightly battered) form of the canoe’s hull. Did I mention that, with a 1200-litre soundbox, it also had a heck of a voice?

David was surprised by the crushing power of the skins (the lacings pulled the bottom of the aluminum hull upwards towards the drumhead, “hogging” the hull somewhat) and has recently brought to us the reinforced mark II version, or rather, “Conundrum II”.

The canoe has served as muse for other artists as well and we are very excited to gather and install several interactive art pieces within the sympathetic context of our museum’s galleries, to open on Family Day February 18th, 2013. Also featured in this show is an elegant and award-winning structure that blends the complex elements of a canoe’s framework with the religious guidelines for the sukkah (a temporary hut built and used during the Jewish Festival of Sukkot) and named by its creator “the Sukkanoe”. Another innovative piece to be included is named “Myth of the Steersman” and is an engaging multi-media installation inspired by the art and passions of Tom Thomson.

For more information, please watch for updates on this museum’s website.


It’s this way!

Our guest book notes individuals from Canada, the United States, Scotland, Wales, England, Germany,Spain, Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, Austria, Australia, Dubai and other locations.  Comments have included “inspiring”, “an amazing experience” and “well-worth a return visit”.

Our Education Department receives numerous accolades for their presentations and programs.  From thank you cards to personalized drawings, students and teachers have extended their appreciation.

We also appreciate those who have expressed their interest in the Museum through other media.  We would encourage our visitors to share their experience at their favourite travel site.  Haven’t visited us yet?  Read what other visitors have had to say here:

Whether you are a first time, repeat or future visitor, we thank you!

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 WEBSITE, so there you have it..Hi-Tec in the 1800’s.

I rest my case.

Passion, fun, thankful, interesting … all of these words have been floating around the Museum lately. Perhaps not typical words you would associate with a Museum, but then again The Canadian Canoe Museum is not your typical museum.

This past Saturday, September 22nd, the Museum hosted its first members-only event. Members were given the special opportunity to explore the Museum’s collection’s storage facility (not currently on display to the general public) and enjoy a passionate talk on the Wabakimi Project as part of the Wipper Lecture Series.

Kicking off the afternoon surrounded by the world’s largest collection of canoes and kayaks, members were able to get up close and personal with the artifacts.

Jeremy Ward, Curator, for The Canadian Canoe Museum guided the members through the stories of a number of the artifacts and shared the interesting story of how the Enys canoe recently made its way home to the Museum. The canoe, which dates back to the late 1700s, is one of the oldest known birch bark canoes and is a significant piece of Canadian history. To find out more on the Enys canoe, please click here.

Hands-on. The Canadian Canoe Museum is not just a series of artifacts and associated plaques, but offers visitors the opportunity to engage with the collection, its stories, and history, in fun and unexpected ways. For example, this member got to try her hand on the Canoe Drum, made by David Hynes.

Following the tour of the collection’s storage facility, members were invited to the Museum’s Education Centre to enjoy refreshments and hear from this year’s Wipper Lecturer, “Uncle” Phil Cotton. Museum Executive Director, James Raffan, greeted the members and thanked them for their invaluable support of The Canadian Canoe Museum. Members are the backbone of this institution, and without their kind support we would not be able to preserve and celebrate the canoe, or offer educational programs to people of all ages.

The grand finale of the afternoon, was guest speaker, “Uncle” Phil Cotton, or as some call the “rogue prophet of Wabakimi”. Accompanied by an interesting mix of breathtaking photos, Phil shared his passion for Wabakimi Provincial Park, information on canoeing opportunities in the Park, and the volunteer conservancy initiative he founded that is known internationally as The Wabakimi Project. Wabakimi Provincial Park lies some 240 km north of Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Twice the size of either Quetico or Woodland Caribou, it is Ontario’s 2nd largest provincial park and features some of the best canoe camping opportunities the province has to offer.

In the first eight years of operation, 144 different volunteers from across North America and Europe collectively spent a total of 718 days on 82 reconnaissance expeditions exploring, rehabilitating and mapping the canoe routes of the Wabakimi area. Together, they travelled over 3,960km, identified and cleaned more than 751 traditional campsites and located, cleared and measured 758 portages whose total lengths exceed 187,900m. In return for route planning assistance, contributors and partners organize their own self-directed trips to monitor these routes and report on their condition and usage.

A retired high school teacher, avid canoe historian and active environmentalist, “Uncle” Phil Cotton lives in Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario from where he has guided canoe trips professionally for over 55 years. Keenly interested in aquatic and outdoor safety, Phil has taught canoe and water safety courses and actively participated in the operations of local volunteer search and rescue organizations. A prolific author in his own right, he contributed a chapter for Kevin Callan’s popular paddler’s guidebook, Quetico and Beyond.

Since 2004, Phil has devoted himself full-time to the preservation and protection of the canoe routes that lie within Wabakimi Provincial Park and on the adjacent Crown lands. His interest in these historic waterways grew out of a concern that they were falling into disrepair due to lack of maintenance and, without intervention, would be lost forever. His determination to complete the monumental task of rehabilitating and documenting this important cultural and historical value has earned him the reputation as the “rogue prophet of Wabakimi” and the nickname of “Wabakimi recon man”.

Stay tuned for more details on the next members’ event. Are you a member yet?

Recognize this guy? We’re spending a lot of time together lately, he and I. Especially, since he needs a bit of help. Yes, it’s September, and around here in the Education Department we’ve got that delicious, fresh start, get-ready feeling.  While the teachers get to know their kids and their classes, we get a little window to do a burst of program creation, renovation, repairs & tweaking, based on all the ideas that our visitors, our animators, and our colleagues in experiential education share and inspire throughout the year.

One thing we hear a lot about is the prohibitive cost of buses, however reasonable our program fees are. Well, I’ve been unable to get past the rudimentary stages of class teleportation (physics was never my strongest subject). Instead, we’re turning our energies to developing outreach versions of our programs so that we can bring our hands-on programming to schools.  Truth be told, nothing beats the wonder kids (and adults) show when they come here (A waterfall in the building!  Canoes in the air!  “You mean I can touch that, really?!”). And even if I’m a wizard at packing the mini-van, it’ll never be able to carry the incredible context for programming that our collection here offers. Nonetheless, we’ve been having a great time figuring out the most engaging, curriculum-tied and uniquely museum-linked programming to take out of the building, in both official languages, no less!

Read the rest of this entry »

We are providing a welcoming atmosphere where our products are displayed in an organized and visually appealing way; there is an abundance of merchandise for you our visitors such as:

  • Artisan Crafts Created Onsite at the Museum
  • Children’s Toys, Games and Kits
  • Kayak & Canoe Craft
  • Jewelry and Accessories
  • Books, Maps, CD’s and DVD’s
  • Prints and Posters
  • Canadian Canoe Museum Apparel
  • Vintage Canoe Company Clothing and Publications
  • Items From Local Artists and Suppliers

Remember to come in and get your items for our upcoming events such as Beaver Club Gala, and the book signing of Joseph Boyden.

Will you be attending? Show your support of these events with a comment or a ‘Like’

On August 29th, The Canadian Canoe Museum opened the doors of its collections storage facility to the public to host a very special event. Inside the building, the smell of a recent sweetgrass smudging enhanced the usual reverential atmosphere of this space.

Surrounded by the world’s largest collection of canoes and kayaks and laid out for guests were the elegant remains of a bark canoe recently returned to Canada after more than two centuries years in the hands of a family in Cornwall, England. The canoe, which dates back to the late 1700s, is one of the oldest known birch bark canoes and is a significant piece of Canadian history. As a young officer, Lt. John Enys first came to Canada in 1776 with his regiment to defend a besieged Quebec City during the American Revolution. Since his return to the UK after the war and for the last 230 years this canoe has been kept at the Enys estate.

The bark canoe’s fragile hull has been inevitably damaged over the past two centuries. Its remains were removed from the family’s storage building and carefully prepared for display by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) in the summer of 2011. Enys’ descendents desired that the canoe ultimately return to an appropriate Canadian collection and chose to donate this important artifact to The Canadian Canoe Museum. In the summer of 2012 the canoe crossed the Atlantic once again, this time by aircraft rather than troopship, thanks to the combined efforts of the Canadian High Commission in London, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Air Force, the generous support of the W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the NMMC.

In the quiet hours before the event began, Curve Lake First Nations elder Doug Williams was joined by several helpers in welcoming the canoe to this area with words, prayers and song. The drumming group Unity formally started things off with a Welcome Song, sung for the guests assembled and also for the canoe. Over the course of the event, Williams and also Stephen Augustine (curator, Canadian Museum of Civilization) joined Canadian Canoe Museum executive director James Raffan and curator Jeremy Ward in discussing the significance of this artifact and its return to Canada.

The canoe is not currently displayed and will undergo an extensive assessment and treatment period over the next months with the aim to prepare it for future exhibition. For additional description and photographs of the event, please read Evan Holt’s excellent account.

I bet there are a lot of happy parents and grandparents out there this week with the return of school and the subsequent routines that go with it!! I am one of those parents who is sighing with relief.  I do love a summer filled with camping, cottages, and family just as much as the next gal, but it is tiring.  With the return of the routines, making space for family-time on the weekends is hard.  September is a busy month, for sure, but it also likely the nicest month for canoeing in Ontario and hence is a great way to get some family-time in!  Here are some ideas to create a few more memorable canoe-related adventures for the family before the first frost.

1. Figure out which weekend works best (quickly before things get scheduled) and head into your nearby park for an easy (don’t work too hard) base camp canoe trip.  It is really nice to stay in one place for both nights so you can have a slow morning, sipping a nice cuppa, wearing your wackiest toques! Algonquin or Kawartha Highlands is our go-to place for fall trips as they are close and beautiful and pretty quiet too.

2. Encourage the kids’ teachers to bring them to the Museum for likely the most interesting and fun (and educational but don’t tell the kids) field trip going!  Be sure to offer your services as the volunteer for the trip so that you too can learn a few new things.  If you need to arm yourself with more information about our school programs check out this School programs link.

3. Come by the Museum for a day of fun that is unlike    anything else you can do in Peterborough.  The kids will love it (and I can say that honestly as my kids LOVE the place) and you will be happy to not be the ‘entertainers’ for a few hours:)  I could go into all of the neat hands-on stuff there is to do but it is becoming a long list so just trust me! Be sure to pack a picnic and eat in our Education Room.

4. Adults, want to hone your own canoeing skills?  Want to learn how to solo your canoe? Want to build on your certifications or start the process of getting certified? Wouldn’t it be cool to do that with the Canoe Museum? We can do that for you.  Email me, to find out more.  We can do private lessons and we provide all of the equipment too.

5. Not sure about a canoeing course, that’s okay.  Why not try one of the cool artisan offerings this fall?  Finger weaving, paddle carving, moccasin-making…oh my!!

6. Okay here’s a good one!  First you have to become a Canadian Canoe Museum Member (easy to do and really really reasonable with all kinds of fantastic perks).  Then you can sign up for a Members’ event on Saturday September 22nd.  On the 22nd you will get a private tour of our Collection storage area (incredible boats) and then you can hear all about canoe travel in Wabakimi Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario–Ontario’s second largest provincial park and world’s largest protected wilderness canoeing area.  This will kick-start the dreaming/planning for next summer’s big trip.  Cool no?

7. Enjoy the changing season!