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If you’ve raised children, looked after children or read to children, chances are you’ve encountered Richard Scarry’s immortal Busytown stories and met Huckle the Cat, his sister Sally, Mr. Frumble and of course, Lowly Worm. One of the stories begins something like this (it’s been a few years since I read this, so forgive me if the quotation is a little bit off!):

It’s early morning in Busytown. My, what a busy place!

That line went through my head all last week, as we were a very busy place indeed. The week began with Arts & Culture Week, part of Peterborough’s Seniors Month event, organized by indefatigable community organizer (and former Canoe Museum Board Member) Pat Hooper.

Seniors Month cropped

Monday it was photography and artisans and a wigwam drop-in. Tuesday brought the New Horizons band, square dancers and singers. Wednesday was painting, Thursday was theatre, artisans and a wigwam drop-in and Friday offered more music and journal and memoir writing. So far, so good and pretty busy. As the psalm says, there was definitely some “joyful noise,” especially when the kids from Spring Valley PS got together with members of the Fairhaven Choir.

IMG_5602 2013 June 14 Spring Valley and Fairhaven choir

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The Museum is opening its doors to the public this Sunday, January 13th and offering FREE admission! Yes Free!  We are open from 12pm to 5pm and we are featuring our annual show of models and miniatures.  Our friends, the Peterborough Model Railroaders and the Lindsay & District Model Railroaders will be filling the Education Room with cool model trains for the kids and the young at heart!  The Maple Leaf Telegraph club will be here as well as Steve Guthrie and his military models. There will be kids’ crafts, a snack bar, live artisan demonstrations including paddle making, kayak building and birch bark canoe repair.  The Museum Store will be open and sales are to be expected (25% off selected apparel and 40% off select giftware and jewelry)!  It is going to be a fabulous day and one that you won’t want to miss.  See you Sunday. For more information check out or call 705-748-9153.























A different kind of upset in whitewater paddling: the Massive C-1 Groove

Massive Groove

In general, we prefer to maintain four or five decades of hindsight to accumulate before acquiring a modern canoe or kayak for our permanent collection. In a family as diverse and dynamic as the paddling sports in their myriad forms, there have been many flashy newcomers that have perhaps not had the lasting effect once claimed or imagined. A result of this caution is that a walk through the 500 or so canoes and kayaks in our Collections Storage facility shows a predominance of wooden hulls, peppered lightly by the odd modern composite.

CCM Collections Storage

On rare occasions, however, we have the opportunity to acquire a contemporary boat that has a story, a pedigree or a relationship to a singular person that calls for a hastier response. For instance, several years ago we had the opportunity to acquire two K-1 sprint kayaks belonging to celebrated Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden. One, by Plastex, was used at the 2004 Athens Olympics to earn Gold and Bronze. The other, a Nelo K-1, was used to claim Silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Adam van Koeverden spring K-1s

Adam van Koeverden sprint kayaks

Earlier this year, we learned about a great little boat with a tie-dye colour scheme called the Groove C-1 by Massive. Designed by that company’s owners Ian Thompson and Paul Danks for the vibrant whitewater freestyle canoe and kayaking community in the mid to late-90s, this playboat caused one of those wonderful moments in sport where a break-through design succeeds at a meet. In the hands of its accomplished paddler and co-designer, Danks, it cleaned up. In competitions leading up to the 1997 Ottawa Rodeo Worlds, Danks and his Groove had dominated again and again but would ultimately be barred from competing at the Worlds for concerns over the boat’s revolutionary design. However, the boat would leave its mark and many competitors have stated that elements from the Groove’s form influenced future hull designs in this sport.

Billy Harris (Canadian Freestyle team since 1999) claimed that: “the Massive C-1 Groove not only revolutionized the freestyle movement that we have today, but was so instrumental, that the sport had to change overnight to accommodate the capabilities of the boat.Massive Groove 2

The Canadian Canoe Museum would like to thank accomplished whitewater paddler and filmmaker Ben Aylsworth for the donation of this important part of Canadian sport paddling history and also for compiling many testimonials from the paddling community. In his words:

“The Groove changed freestyle paddling forever. It is, I believe, the most important modern freestyle boat ever designed. It exemplifies not only the lasting impact that Canadians have had on the sport (they don’t call it C-1 for nothing!) but also the spot where the world of kayaking continues to take shape: The Ottawa River.”


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!

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!

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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!

Over the weekend of August 17th to 19th, The Canadian Canoe Museum became connoisseurs and critics of art at the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. This year, the Festival’s theme was “Canadian Journeys.” Fittingly, The Canadian Canoe Museum was asked to be their beneficiary. We had a beautiful booth set up, complete with General Manager, John Summer’s orange sailing canoe named “Clementine”! With more than 80 artists displayed, the Festival drew in a large crowd of art-enthusiasts.


At our main booth, we sold merchandise and informed passers-by about the Museum. Our great front line volunteers, Gloria, Sue, and Nan, were great representatives, and managed to sell quite a bit of merchandise! To interact even more with visitors, we had artisans working away on their sewing; Ipie and our summer student, Linda, engaged visitors by linking their tangible sewing creations to the history of voyageurs.

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The Canoe Museum is pretty awesome! Here are 5 reasons why you should become a member and help us reach 1,000 members by the end of 2013…

1. It’s cheap! A family membership pays for itself in only a couple of visits . It allows you unlimited FREE admission for a full year to all exhibits, including the new exhibit Canoes to Go: The Search for a Truly Portable Boat.

Members trying out the folding canoe in the Canoes to Go exhibit

2. Fun! You receive invitations to exclusive member events held both at the Museum and online (because we know you can’t always make it into the Museum – especially if you live in places like BC, Florida, or London).  You will enjoy behind-the-scenes tours, talks, receptions, renowned family activities, exhibit previews, and VIP priority access and news including many pre-registration opportunities to the Museum’s public events and activities.

Never a dull moment at the Museum! Pack basket workshop participants show off their projects.

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