Canadian Canoe Museum’s 9th Annual Beaver Club Gala was an extraordinary success!

We held our 9th annual Beaver Club Gala this past Saturday, October the 15th right here in our home at 910 Monaghan Road in Peterborough! It was a huge undertaking to hold the event (for the first time ever!) within the museum's galleries, but, as we do, we all pulled together and made it happen - and it was magical.


This year's gala sold out in record time, and was attended by a 173 wonderful guests. Our host for the evening was the one and only James Raffan, and we (very excitedly) welcomed Peter Mansbridge, 12-time Gemini Award winner and officer of the Order of Canada, as our guest speaker for the evening!

The night was opened in true BCG style with the procession of the piper, boar’s head and voyageurs (modeled after the original fur traders’ supper club in Montreal).

Following the procession, our dear friend Chief Phyllis Williams of Curve Lake First Nation gave a traditional welcome, and Bill Morris, the chair of our Board of Directors provided updates on the progress of the museum including new partnerships, programming and also our relocation project.

After a wonderful toast from Peter Mansbridge, our guests enjoyed an 18th century inspired four-course dinner. After dinner, Peter Mansbridge once again took the stage and delighted guests with some after dinner stories including how he got his start in broadcasting the news, stories of filming Pierre Trudeau's biography, and a reflection of his visit to the original tunnels of Vimy Ridge. 

Following the after dinner stories was our live auction and finally to top off the night – Le Grand Voyage, a “paddling competition” which culminates in one guest from each table awarded with a coveted Beaver Club Medal!

This year we expect to gross over $130,000 in support of the museum's education and public programs – the highest amount raised in the history of the event!

“Guests had the unique opportunity to experience this wonderful evening completely immersed in the organization and amongst our fabulous collection of heritage pieces,” Joyce Mackenzie, Co-chair of the Gala Organizing Committee
“We were so glad that Peter Mansbrige was able to join us as this year’s guest speaker. He captivated our guests with his wonderful toast and after dinner stories. The entire evening was a truly remarkable experience.” Sally Chenoweth, Co-chair of the Gala Organizing Committee 
 The museum would like to thank everyone involved in the success of this year’s event including Gala sponsors, the Gala Organizing Committee, our volunteers and our wonderful guests and supporters. The ongoing support of our stakeholders is integral to the success of our organization and we can never thank them enough.” Carolyn Hyslop, General Manager, Canadian Canoe Museum

The Gala is held each year on the Saturday following the Thanksgiving weekend with tickets going on sale in the early summer months.

Teacher Feature: Beryl Cohen’s Canoe Project

For a just few more days, we have a unique exhibit hanging above our “Grand Portage” gallery: 56 canoes hand-made by 56 grade 6 students from Karen Kain School for the Arts, installed last June in time for the group’s overnight stay at the Museum. (Yes! 56 students sleeping over in the Museum! But that’s another story.)

To me, this exhibit -- and the project behind it -- is the convergence of everything awesome: students making things, exploring a topic in-depth and long-term, through a project that connects school, home and community. Bonus points that the canoe is the focus of it all.

The Canoe Project, in its 7th year, is the brainchild of Beryl Cohen, a teacher at Karen Kain School for the Arts, a middle school in the southwest of Toronto District School Board. She explains how it works: “During the project, students view a number of films related to the canoe. After a number of independent research periods where they investigate a series of websites, the students select a canoe that they’d like to create. As an in-depth, integrated project, the students are expected to use Google Earth to research a canoe route that their canoe may have traveled, they then design their map using formal cartographic details. They meticulously document their entire canoe-building process and share their research and work through a film a PowerPoint or Prezi, and an oral presentation. Students are expected to discuss their problems and how they overcame them. They are given credit in all English strands, Social Studies and Visual Arts.” In an effort to deliberately parallel the learning-from-elders in traditional First Nations communities, the students are encouraged to work with their parents when building the canoe. And their research immerses them deeply in the First Nations, Metis and/or Inuit origins of the watercraft they choose to study.

The students’ investment of time, energy and care into this project is so moving. Check out this student’s film here:

Says Beryl Cohen: “It’s amazing to see how their confidence increases and how they become stronger, more independent learners as they complete this project. “

Where does the Canoe Museum come in to the picture? Ms. Cohen, along with other Karen Kain teachers, has been bringing students to the Museum for their big overnight end-of-year grade 6 trip for a number of years now.  This is what that looks like:

But this year, there was something new. A month or so before the trip, Ms. Cohen had a request: Could they bring their canoes? Could we exhibit them?

And this is one of the many things I love about this place. I got to say yes. Thanks to a love of learning and student creativity that permeates the whole Museum, we prioritized finding space in our (very full!) Galleries, and brought in the students’ work. We asked the students to provide photographs and write-ups based on curatorial standards. The lack of time (or budget!) for creating hard exhibit materials meant that the students’ statements and photos are hosted online on our website and accessible in the Galleries via iMac – something that at first seemed like a limitation (no text panels!) but now seems like a positive: we’ve had a number of people reach out to us about the project based on online views.

The looks on the students’ faces when they first saw their canoes in the Museum: priceless. “Hey! Those are our canoes!” one student said as they filed into the Galleries. And the line of kids stopped; they pointed and laughed and, despite their best grade 6 efforts to hide it, beamed with pride. We also welcomed some of the students’ families here over the summer, making the journey to the Museum for the first time to see their child’s work in a context of many traditions of canoe building and history.

We’ll be taking the canoes down next week to get ready for our upcoming Beaver Gala, but we’ll keep the online version here for you to check out.

And now, over to you: Are you interested in trying a version of this Canoe Project? We’re taking names for a PD session led by Beryl Cohen on how to implement this in your classroom.  Or, do you have a canoe-based project in your classroom? We’d love to hear about it. Please get in touch with me:

Summer Reflections feat. Madawaska CCM White Water Week - a blog by Bretton Clark

Here at The Canadian Canoe Museum, we are very fortunate to work with a top notch, first class, amazing, passionate and dedicated group of volunteers and staff! We know we say this all the time, but it is just so very true!

We also know that yesterday was the first day of fall - but we want to spend just a bit more time reflecting on the wonderful summer season we had full of fun and paddling!

Our Paddling Camps are staffed by a variety of passionate and talented outdoor educators, and we couldn't be more pleased to work with each and every one of them. Two of these folks, Briagh Hoskins-Hasbury and Bretton Clark, also run an amazing business of their own, maybe you have heard of it? The Land Canadian Adventures? I you haven't you must check them out! They are doing incredible things with outdoor experiences, education, and community building.

We have been fortunate to partner with The Land in many capacities including our National Canoe Day celebration this past year (when we celebrated by filling the Lift Lock with 138 canoes and kayaks!) (Great video can be seen here by Evan Holt of Traversing)

Bretton from The Land co-guided our Whitewater Week Paddling Camp on the Madawaska River this past August and wrote a fantastic piece reflecting on his experience! 

Briagh has been instructing in the Canadian Canoe Museum’s summer ORCKA paddling camps for two seasons now, and has really enjoyed sharing her paddling love, knowledge and experience with the young folks of our community through the weeklong and day classes.  This season, I’ve been able to jump in on some of the CCM’s amazing programs as well, paddling avant in the Voyageur Canoe with the unparalleled Jen Bernard back in June and most recently co-leading the White Water Week Camp with fellow wilderness guide Kim Chamberlain, and ten intrepid canoe campers on the Lower Madawaska River.
Photo: Running Rapids on the Madawaska River
After a rendezvous and icebreaker activities at the Canoe Museum on Monday morning, we packed and bussed to Palmer Rapids to set up camp at the Paddler Co-op and commence our flatwater progression workshop.  On the way up, we discussed the various roles of the camp skills leaders, and had the canoe-campers assign themselves various duties: camp meister organizes shelter and water purification and supervises set up and takedown; navigator navigates, and gives briefings about the day’s travels; weather meister predicts the weather and ensures that campers prepare for it; and camp leader and assistant leader manage the other roles, timing of events, and write up the daily trip report.  Campers were quite surprised when they also had to sign up for which meal they would prepare, since some of them apparently don’t do much of the cooking at home!  Roles changed daily to give folks a chance to try on a variety of hats, and everyone pitched in.  

Read the rest on The Land's Gunwhale Blog! Click here

Customary, Custom Gear

If you're planning on being outside for several days in a Canadian winter you're definitely going to want the best of the best gear to keep you warm, happy and comfortable! There is no shortage of shiny new products and materials to tempt us – but are all these new synthetic fabrics and streamlined designs really more functional, warmer or durable than natural materials and crafting traditions of the earliest travellers of our northern landscapes?

Winter tripping guides and traditional crafters Dave and Kai of the Sudbury based business Lure of the North have been leading winter camping excursions since 2011, and have this to say about how they like to outfit themselves for a winter camping trip:

Equipment choices and clothing materials are heavily influenced by the earliest European travellers of this great land, who themselves borrowed heavily from and adapted the practices of indigenous travellers. Just as Europeans developed certain adaptations to indigenous methodologies (eg, steel tools and certain woven fabrics) while maintaining the same basic principles, so too does the modern traveller make material updates while striving to uphold the best time-tested traditions (for example, plastic toboggans have largely replaced wooden ones, but the shape and functionality remains nearly unchanged). Thus, while some (but not all!) materials may have been updated over the ensuing centuries, the form and function of our tools are the same as those developed and perfected over thousands of years spent living on this land.

Check out this video from Lure of the North comparing a traditional and modern snow show in action

If you are interested in taking a guided outdoor camping trip with Lure of the North check out their website here.

Interested in hand crafting a beautiful pair of winter moccasins or snowshoes of your own? The museum is fortunate enough to have Dave and Kai teach a series of workshops right here at the museum! The following is a list of what we have up-coming.

Trent Severn Symphonic Canoe

The Canadian Canoe Museum and the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra are teaming up to celebrate their respective 50th and 20th birthdays in 2017 (in the same year Canada is turning 150) with a gala concert that will take people on a musical journey around the northern hemisphere.

Christine Donkin, is writing a work inspired by the famous Quebecois folktale, La Chasse Galerie, the Flying Canoe. The word premier of this work will be happening at the gala concert on February 4th

Christine Donkin, is writing a work inspired by the famous Quebecois folktale, La Chasse Galerie, the Flying Canoe. The word premier of this work will be happening at the gala concert on February 4th

The music by Norwegian Edvard Grieg, Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius and a specially commissioned work, inspired by the Quebecois folktale La Chasse Galerie (The Flying Canoe), by Ottawa-based Composer, Christine Donkin. With the members of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra Maestro Michael Newnham will sweep us around the northern world from Norway to Sweden, Finland, Russia and back to Canada. Narrating the concert with words and images from his bestselling book, Circling the Midnight Sun, will be author and paddler, James Raffan. It promises to be a one-of-a-kind gala concert happening on Saturday, February 4th, 2017. Tickets are on sale - click here to purchase!


You just never know what's going to be happening in canoes at the Peterborough Lift Lock! To announce the PSO/ CCM partnership, volunteers from the Canadian Canoe Museum paddle while, under the direction of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra Musical Director Michael Newnham, members of the PSO French horn section play the Hunter's Chorus from the opera “Der Freischütz” by Carl Maria von Weber. 

It’s from an opera called “Der Freischütz”, and usually sung by a men’s chorus. In parka and beaver hat, looking ahead through binoculars, is James Raffan, .

Having negotiated a lease with Parks Canada, the Canadian Canoe Museum is hoping to relocate to this site in the future but, in the meantime, we've been doing a variety of programs in and around the Lift Lock. Visit Museum on the Move on our website for more information.

Nothing would ever happen at the Canadian Canoe Museum without our dedicated volunteers, like Russ Musgrove, who stepped away from his duties on the front desk to be the avant for this musical canoe caper at the Lift Lock.

Enjoy some more photos from the partnership launch, and we'll hope to see you at the symphony in February!