"Canoeguy" Mike Elliott Launches Much Needed Canoe Restoration Book

Mike Elliot, a long time friend of the museum,  began restoring canoes as a hobby in 1995. His passion eventually turned into a full time career when Mike decided to open Kettle River Canoes in Grand Forks, B.C. 

Throughout the years Mike has also provided a plethora of tips and tricks for canoe restoration on his blog which has been a valuable resource to many people looking to work on their own canoe restoration projects. Since 2003, Mike has completed over 170 canoe restoration projects!

Author and canoe restorer Mike Elliott.

Author and canoe restorer Mike Elliott.

Mike Elliot demonstrating techniques at the museum's National Canoe Day event. 

Mike Elliot demonstrating techniques at the museum's National Canoe Day event. 

Mike has compiled his experiences, knowledge and stories into a fantastic, one-of-a-kind book and resource called This Old Canoe: How to Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe. A concise, enjoyable and informative read, This Old Canoe lets you in on the trade secrets of how to successfully return your canoe to it's former glory. Designed to simplify the challenging tasks of canoe restoration, the over 300 photos and 70+ plans and illustrations in the book guide readers through techniques for canvassing, weaving rattan seats, bending wood and much more.

Along with all of the technical information, Mike includes great stories about old wooden canoes, their people, and the stories that brought them back together again. These stories connect the reader with the people behind the boats, and inspire the realization that almost any canoe restoration can be achieved by following the books directions.

"This Old Canoe gathers a wealth of experience and technique into an inspiring manual for living with this iconic little wooden boat – whether we choose to work on them ourself or just enjoy the romance of this tradition." Jeremy Ward, Curator, The Canadian Canoe Museum

Mike Elliott will be joining us at the museum for a presentation and book signing on Thursday June the 16th 6PM to 8PM. Come by for this free public event, hear Mike talk about wooden canoes, their people and the ties that bind them back together again. Pick up your copy of This Old Canoe from the Tumblehome Shop or bring your own copy to be signed! 



Looking back and celebrating; looking ahead and preparing


The Board of Directors was joined by the staff at the Museum, members and donors for its Annual General Meeting last month on April the 27th. The formal part of the program focused on the organization's accomplishments in 2015, as well as how the Board is working to ready the organization for the next steps in its redevelopment project.

Bill Morris, Chair, Canadian Canoe Museum Board of Directors

Bill Morris, Chair, Canadian Canoe Museum Board of Directors

"On behalf of the citizens of our country, The Canadian Canoe Museum stewards the world's largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. These craft — more than 600 in number — and their stories of national and international significance have an important role to play in our collective future. That's why, in 2015, we furthered our reinvention and relocation agendas — the two pillars of our organization's 10-year strategic plan," said Bill Morris, Chair, Board of Directors. "Now, we are at a pivotal point in the evolution of our organization, poised to realize fully our role as a national Museum. With an organization-wide focus on our redevelopment project, we are ramping up and retooling for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities before us."

The Museum is pleased to share key highlights from the AGM:

• Two new Board members were welcomed — Deborah Jacobs and John Ronson.

o Deborah is currently a Councillor with Curve Lake First Nation and an active member of her community. She has lived in Curve Lake all her life. Deborah has been married for 46 years and has three sons and 10 grandchildren, which she calls her "pride and joy." Deborah worked for many years at the Curve Lake Day Care Centre and also taught early childhood education classes for the Anishinabek Education Institute in North Bay. She has always enjoyed the water; and fishing, boating and canoeing at her family cabin on Dead Horse Island, have played a significant part in her life.

o John is an executive with TELUS, as well as an avid canoeist and camper. A Peterborough resident, he is a former member of the national and Ontario boards of the Canadian Cancer Society and a number of other not-for-profit boards including the board of Waterfront Toronto. A lawyer by training, he previously served as Chief of Staff to Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

• Michael Davies, a longtime Board member, donor, and friend of the Museum, who passed away in 2015, was remembered at the AGM. Michael's association with the Museum began in 2007, when he spearheaded the initiative to acquire and repatriate to Canada an exquisite canoe made of sterling silver that belonged to the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Sir George Simpson. Michael will be missed, but his legacy will continue to effervesce into the lives of anyone who beholds the silver canoe at The Canadian Canoe Museum.

• Departing Board members Tom Reburn and Donald Ross and were acknowledged and thanked for their service to the organization.

• Some additions and some changes at the staff level of the organization were introduced.

o J-C D'Amours, the organization's new Director of Philanthropy, was introduced to the membership. He will oversee the creation and management of the organization's annual development plan and associated initiatives.

o The role of Project Director has been created to oversee the planning of the new Museum. Richard Tucker, the organization's executive director since 2014, has assumed this role. This is a key area of expertise for Richard. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been instrumental in a number of building projects including SkyDome in Toronto and Canary Wharf in London, England.

o The new role of General Manager has been filled by Carolyn Hyslop, the organization's Director of Operations since 2014. This role has been created to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Museum, including its national outreach strategies. Carolyn has a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree from McMaster University along with a Bachelor of Education degree from Queen’s University Outdoor and Experiential Education program. She has been with the Museum for more than 15 years, having held positions including Education Co-ordinator and Public Programs Manager.

o The Board has hired The Dennis Group Inc., headquartered in Peterborough, to ensure the organization's readiness for an ambitious capital campaign. Chonee Dennis, President & CEO, and her team are working behind-the-scenes and in close co-operation with the Museum Board and staff members to lay the groundwork for the campaign.

• The Board thanked and acknowledged the Museum's members, and its donors, highlighting the Founders' Circle — a group of visionaries and philanthropists helping to create the next chapter in the Museum's story.

• The Board also acknowledged the City of Peterborough and Parks Canada — the Museum's key partners in the redevelopment of the Lift Lock Site.

• The Museum announced that it is planning for further information sessions with the architects heneghan peng and Kearns Mancini that were chosen for the new Museum facility.

• It was celebrated that the Museum is the first in the country to offer the Microsoft Skype Educators Network for schools and groups to take part in award winning education programs from anywhere in Canada and the World. By the end of May the Museum will have delivered programs to schools in Alberta, Ontario, Iowa, Kansas, BC, Texas, Michigan and Alaska!

• Curatorial highlights were discussed including an update on the MacGregor collection, which will become the “heart” of an upcoming exhibit this fall all about canoe manufacturing in the industrial age. Also mentioned was the acquisition of over 14,000 books from the Luste family that are mission related to the Museum and include rare titles dating from the early 1700’s to contemporary. Another exciting acquisition to the collection was announced, a canoe owned by Robert Bateman.

• A new milestone in the Museum’s membership was announced, welcoming the 1000th member to the Museum family!

View the museum's 2015 Annual Report here

Q is for Qajaq

Polar Adventurer Eric McNair-Landry Delivers Interactive Kayak Building Exhibit

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

Eric McNair-Landry grew up in Iqaluit, Nunavut where dog sledding, kiteskiing, and cold weather survival skills were learned at an early age. His adventures have taken him across the Northwest Passage, to the Gobi Desert, twice to the South Pole, and across the Greenland Icecap six times. Eric has been nominated for National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year Award and received the Outdoor Idol Award in 2007. Eric also took part in the 1,000 km ‘Expedition Q’ journey across Baffin Island in 2013 using 4 qajaqs built by his team with students in Iqaluit, Nunavut. 

From April 25th to May 3rd, Eric will be delivering an interactive exhibit, Q is for Qajaq, in the Living Traditions gallery at the Canadian Canoe Museum! 

Visitors can engage in this educational, interactive exhibit as Eric and a team of craftspeople build traditional Baffin-design qajaqs. Entry is included with regular museum admission. After his time at the Canadian Canoe Museum, Eric will then travel to the Museum of Nature in Ottawa where he will continue the exhibit from May 5th to 20th.

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

© Martin Lipman/ Students on Ice

© Martin Lipman/ Students on Ice

Q is for Qajaq is a collaborative project that aims to inspire qajaq (Inuktitut for kayak) building and paddling in Canada’s Arctic. The completed qajaqs will be taken on this summer’s Students on Ice Arctic Expedition and paddled by youth from Canada and around the world. Following the expedition, the qajaqs will continue to inspire through community workshops and outreach initiatives.

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

© Lee Narraway / Students on Ice

Traditional qajaq building and paddling has largely disappeared from the Canadian High Arctic. Despite this, the qajaq still appears prominently in Inuit art, folklore, oral history and as a symbol of Inuit ingenuity. Inuit people have a large vocabulary dedicated to qajaqs—their construction, their use and their maintenance. Greenland, however, has seen a recent surge in traditional qajaq building and paddling. McNair-Landry and his team hope to help integrate qajaq knowledge into school curricula in Canada’s North and to return the qajaq to its integral role in competitions, recreation, art, fishing and hunting. 

Q is for Qajaq is a Students on Ice Foundation initiative made possible through partnerships with the Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Canoe Museum, Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Canoe Museum Volunteers

Happy National Volunteer Week!! In the spirit of thanking the 127 volunteers who give their time so generously here at the Canoe Museum, we thought we’d gather a list of the top 10 things you may not know about our dynamic and talented volunteer team! Here we go!

Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Canoe Museum Volunteers

  1. Volunteers warmly welcome over 26,000 visitors from all over the world through our doors each year! They do an amazing job of making visitors feel like friends.
  2. Volunteers are responsible for cataloguing a library of over 3,000 titles!
  3. Volunteers cut over 2,500 pieces of soapstone each year that are used for our school and youth programs.
  4. Volunteers are responsible for the environmental monitoring of the galleries and the collection storage facility. This includes monitoring humidity, temperature and light levels, all in an effort to protect and preserve the largest collection of canoes and kayaks in the world!
  5. Volunteers process all of our annual memberships and renewals. With 1000 members and growing, this is a monumental task!
  6. Volunteers are single-handedly responsible for planning the Museum’s largest annual fundraising event (the Beaver Club Gala), raising $86,020 in 2015!
  7. Volunteers teach 10 adult artisan workshops to roughly 80 participants each year.
  8. Volunteers were instrumental in raising over $474,000 in major gift donations in 2015!
  9. Volunteers lead nearly 500 visitors through guided tours of the Museum’s galleries each year. They do an incredible job of interpreting the collection and telling the best behind-the-scenes stories!
  10. Volunteers generously gave 11,189 hours of their time to the Canoe Museum in 2015. They are the most generous, dedicated and talented bunch of people!!

National Volunteer Week is a wonderful time to recognize, celebrate and thank our incredible community of volunteers. We’re honoured to work alongside a team of volunteers who are passionate about the collection and who help us tell the stories of Canada to all of our visitors and through each of our education and public programs. Thank you to this group of incredible volunteers for all that you do, you are truly at the heart of this Museum!


Are you interested in joining our volunteer team? Click here for more information!

One of a Kind, Wearable Art!

We're so lucky here at the Museum to have so many amazingly talented people in our orbit.  Today I'd like to feature one of our Artisan Workshop instructors who is teaching a Wet Felting class this spring (soon!).

Christianna Ferguson grew up surrounded by a mother and grandmothers who were sewers and quilters, giving her an early appreciation for the love and hard work that goes into something handmade. 

Although she always had an interest in textiles her first try at felting was through a workshop at her daughter’s Waldorf school more than a decade ago. She dabbled in felting and other artistic endeavours while raising her 3 children, but it was while living in Australia in 2012/2013 that her true experimentation with the art of felting took off.  

Christianna will be moving into a new studio and teaching space in Lakefield this fall and her work were recently featured in Uppercase Magazine's publication ‘The Uppercase Compendium of Craft and Creativity’ (www.uppercasemagazine.com).  

During the one-day workshop each participant will make their own inspired, unique, wearable scarf while learning from Christianna. She will share her process of using natural, raw materials and playing with colour, texture and patterns and walk you through the steps.  You'll be choosing your colours, laying out your wool, and by adding soap and friction you'll create a fabulous work of art.  

For the workshop details click here.  To see the whole list of 2016 workshops click here.

We also carry Christianna's amazing works of art in our Tumblehome Shop!