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No, this isn’t an early Hallowe’en post.

THIS is The Beast:

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Okay, so it’s a friendly Beast, aka our Voyageur Canoe, a 33-foot, 450+lb, fiberglass-and-wood canoe designed and painted to look like the birch-bark canoes used during the fur trade.  It earns its nickname not only for its weight but for the fact that any time we want to use it, we have to herd up a bunch of staff and volunteers to dismantle it into two (still beastly heavy) sections, load it onto two trailers, arrange for people with hitches to bring their cars, schlep the trailers and our staff/volunteers to the put-in, and then haul it off the trailers and reconstruct it in situ, which is always reminds why IKEA doesn’t make 500lb bookshelves.  You just have to laugh, really, at how unbirchbark-ish our Voyageur Canoe actually is.

But, don’t get me wrong: I love the beast, and I’m forever grateful that its builder, Jim Holman, generously donated his craft to us after its illustrious reenactment career with the Red House Brigade. Because THIS is also the beast, in action:

2.1.1.2.12 VOYAGEUR CANOE 2

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Paddles straight up in N.Canoe group shot

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Fun even on the grass

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Sitting at a small table at Starbucks, hoping a cappuccino will help illuminate the path, I wonder how in the world all of the stuff the Canoe Museum is working on is going to come together.  We are working on a full roster of fall adult artisan workshops, new education programs, new public events, new tour packages, fundraisers, a strategic planning retreat, a new exhibit for the spring, a fall appeal, the Beaver Club Gala and on top of it all, a project bigger than any of this–a partnership with Parks Canada and the full redevelopment and moving of the Museum to the water!  How do we do it?? Read the rest of this entry »

karen kain paddling-36#1647What do you have planned for the kids in your life this summer holiday? The Canoe Museum provides an exceptional quality day camp experience kids ages 10-14. Spending the day on the water in a canoe, swimming when its hot, making new friends and learning the art of canoeing!  What could be better? We have a few spaces available so check out the camps page for more information.

 

Summer camps? What?! I can’t believe the ice is just out now and that I just planted my peas and spinach last night.  Everything is so late this spring and as such so is my planning for the summer. This is the first year for me that one of my kids can register for the fabulous (and affordable) Paddling Camps that we offer at the Canoe Museum.  Check out the Paddling camp scene on the video below for a taste of what kids are going to be up to this coming summer (and yes, summer is coming)!  Register soon, space is limited and there are others out there who also haven’t planned their summer yet!

A gazillion times a day, this is how it goes:

“Education Coordinator, Karen Taylor speaking…”

“Yes, hello, I’m just wondering if I could bring my students (scouts, guides, youth group) for a tour.”

“No.”

Okay, I don’t really just say NO.  I do have some people skills.  But that is my answer in a nutshell, because I know that when we get your 28 grade 2s – or your 11 Guides or your 17 at-risk youth – into the Museum,  the worst move is to herd ’em up and lead the pack through our exhibits, even though there’s fascinating stuff to talk about and just about any one of us here could go on for hours about it all, passionately, adding the behind-the-scenes stories and more historical context to the wealth of information already in our displays.

Instead, when you call, I’m going to nudge you to toss that idea of a How-to-Visit-a-Museum out the window, and sign your kids up for an experience, for learning-by-doing, for one of our many education programs that aim to take kids to that the edge of their comfort zone where learning happens, and where learning lasts. “Experiential education” can take a lot of forms around here: role plays, a new hands-on skill, artistic expression, games,  but this is what it has looked like in the past couple of weeks. Doesn’t it look fun?! Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Compare:

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

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You may not remember this, but on Thursday, September 12, in the middle of the afternoon, it was raining.  A lot. You could even call it torrential. I don’t have an impressive photo of the downpour, but let’s just say it was not the kind of weather to make even this life-long, hard-core canoeist think: golly, let’s head out for a picnic and paddle this evening.

So, a hundred cheers for the two dozen intrepid new Canadians who did just that, coming out on a chilly, still damp – but surprisingly precipitation-free! – evening to meet new friends and experience a Voyageur canoe ride along the Otonabee River.

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I have to admit it: it seems just the teensiest bit as if summer is… okay, I’ll just say it… over.  It’s not the back-to-school stuff in the stores (which has been up since July anyway) or the recent crisp nights, it’s that for me summer is all about the Museum’s Paddling Camps — and we’ve just said goodbye to our last campers for the year.

Our five weeks of camp saw over 50 paddlers learning new paddling skills and earning ORCKA certifications, with 23 new paddlers earning Level 1 badges, and our returning campers achieving 12 level 2s, five level 3s and seven Tripping 1A certifications. Plus five intrepid and very dedicated campers took us up on our new camp offering this year — the Level 4 ORCKA option, achieving their solo canoe certifications in just one week — no small achievement (can YOU paddle a canoe on your own in a straight line backwards?).  But badge stats aside, that’s a whole lot of kids with water safety and paddling skills they can use to enjoy the Canadian wilderness, or just a local river, their whole lives through. Read the rest of this entry »

Something had to be done.

For a long while, we’ve been offering this kind of paddle-carving program:

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And this kind of paddle-carving program:

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The first picture is from an awesome, satisfying and skill-developing program for kids aged 10 and up, in which the students take a 24-inch softwood (poplar) prepped blank to a completed mini-paddle in 3 hours.  We’ve shared this hands-on education program with thousands of grade 4+ students, Scouts, Guides and our summer paddling camp participants; we also offer a paddle-carving birthday party option.

The second photo is from one of our acclaimed weekend-long artisan-led paddle-carving workshops for adults. No softwoods in this program; this is the real deal.  Taking that hardwood cherry blank – which is only minimally prepped – to a finished paddle takes two full days of focused woodworking with specialized tools, facilitated with a 1:5 instructor to participant ratio.  And what a gorgeous paddle you end up with – a paddle that will be treasured and used for a lifetime. Read the rest of this entry »

Canoe go fishing? You bet you can. Where? At the Canadian Canoe Museum. Let me tell you a story…

A few years ago, one of our most talented artisans, Beth Stanley, spent many hours making some amazing replicas of fish from each of our Great Lakes. These poor fish hung in humility from their little magnets on a metal pole in our Education Office waiting for a long, long, time looking for a home they could call their own.

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THEN.. the exhibit, Canoes To Go was born and they finally found their home in the calm and shallow waters of that very exhibit. Read the rest of this entry »