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BCG2014-Cheers-During-Toasts

The Beaver Club Gala is truly one of a kind! A fine catered dine and wine affair with 165 guests dressed to impressed in black tie, buckskin, voyageur flair, and period attire. Laughter and smiles for miles! Recreating the original fur traders’ supper club in Montreal, Saturday, October 18th marked the 7th annul event in support of experiential education and public programs at The Canadian Canoe Museum. The evening was a tremendous success and raised in excess of $65,000 (net) thanks to many generous sponsors, donors, guests, and volunteers. Check out photo highlights here courtesy of photographer Myke Healy of Fusionriver Photography.

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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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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 »

The waterfall by the entrance at the museum.

The waterfall by the entrance at the museum.

There is a lot more to The Canadian Canoe Museum then canoes. I know sounds funny, but it’s all true! In the museum we have a few things to look at that aren’t all based on canoes. For example, the Wigwam, Preserving Skills Gallery, and the Kirk Wipper Exhibit to name a few are all wonderful pieces. Even the waterfall as you walk in is a nice sight! Although, one of these pieces that I absolutely love to see every time I am in would be the wigwam. The wigwam here at the Museum was created in 2001 by two wonderful people. A staff member and volunteer worked very hard together in creating the wigwam for viewers to enjoy, and I must say it looks great! Read the rest of this entry »

Many followers of this blog might be familiar with the elegant paintings of voyageurs traveling in bark canoes by British-born artist Frances Anne Hopkins. Of the few artists who have left us an eyewitness graphic account of life in the canoe brigades of the Canadian fur trade, Hopkins’ art has always stood out for its elegant composition and its precision with detail. A bonus element is the “where’s Waldo” feature that the artist, a young woman in her late-twenties accompanied by her husband, is often portrayed sitting amidst the burly paddling crew on top of kit and cargo amidships.

Shooting The Rapids

Shooting The Rapids

Married to Edward Hopkins, 20-year-old Frances accompanied her husband to Canada, settling first in Lachine near Montreal. Edward initially served as secretary to Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Frances accompanied her husband on many of his travels. The journeys that would serve as strongest muse for the young artist however would be several tours of inspection by voyageur canoe on the Upper Great Lakes and the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers between 1864 and 1869. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

BCG web photo cropped

When was the last time you dressed up like a character from the grand old days of the fur trade? Was it maybe October 2012 when you came to last year’s Beaver Club Gala?

If you’ve been troubled ever since then by a persistent urge to tie on a sash or wear a top hat, then help is at hand because Beaver Club Gala tickets are now on sale. If you’ve never dressed up like a voyageur, then what are you waiting for? Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Ever since our notable participation in the Thames Jubilee Pageant for Queen Elizabeth II, our followers have been expressing desire for the paddles and outfits worn by The Canadian Canoe Museum Voyageurs.

The attire included an authentic looking canvas shirt, colourful sash, knitted toque, and of course a hand painted paddle adorned with both the iconic museum logo and a maple leaf.Image

Get your own part of the Jubilee and let your inner voyageur free. These items are a Limited Addition so order soon! All parts of the ensemble are available for purchase on the Museum’s Online Store, in person at the Museum Store, and at the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival.

That’s right a large selection of the Museum’s Merchandise, and the actual Canada One/Un Canoe will be displayed at the Annual Art Festival in Buckhorn from August 17-19. Tickets to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival are also available for purchase at the Museum. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

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