Cultural Spaces Funding announced for new canoe museum facility

Today was a very exciting day for The Canadian Canoe Museum!

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women and MP for Peterborough-Kawartha, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced more than $1.4M in cultural infrastructure funding from the Government of Canada towards the development of The Canadian Canoe Museum's new building beside the Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway!

The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and arts presentation or exhibition. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing, visual, and media arts, and to museum collections and heritage displays.

 The funding will allow us to proceed with the pre-construction phase of the new museum, meaning we are well on our way to realizing a new home for the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft.

Visit museum on the move for more information.

The paddle propels the canoe... 

Along with the strength and the skill of the individual holding it, the paddle is a critical component of any canoe trip. Right now, the museum has more than 500 paddles, but collectively, we’re carving one more.

Today, the museum invited all guests whom attended the announcement to contribute to the carving of a canoe paddle, symbolic of our journey towards the new museum. It will take the unique contributions of many – and with great dedication and determination, over time, it will take shape. The finished product will be extraordinary, one-a-kind, and like all the paddles in the museum’s world-class collection, it will have an incredible story to tell. It will also have a home in the new museum.


“Investing in the Canadian cultural sector helps create jobs for the middle class, strengthens the economy and ensures that Canada’s unique perspective is shared with the world.”

 —The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“The Government of Canada is committed to investing in Canada’s cultural infrastructure. Revitalized cultural facilities, like the one that will house the Canadian Canoe Museum, allow Canadians to share and enjoy the inspiring influences of arts and heritage.”

—The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women and Member of Parliament (Peterborough–Kawartha)

“The Canadian Canoe Museum community is incredibly grateful for this federal funding; it will allow us to proceed in earnest with the pre-construction phase of a facility. The new museum, once complete, will care for its world-class collection the way it deserves to be cared for and preserve it, protect it and showcase it for generations to come.”

—Bill Morris, Chair, Board of Directors, The Canadian Canoe Museum

Canadian Canoe Culture

This is one of the most exciting things to happen in quite a while. The Ontario Government has decided to promote the province as a tourist destination with their "Canadian Canoe Culture" campaign.

A group of paddlers and people involved in the tourism industry met at the Canadian Canoe Museum last spring and noodled that idea around, coming up with the idea of celebrating "ordinary heroes" and the various ways in which the canoe can and does promote a host of wonderful human values and outcomes.

We settled on five of those uses or outcomes around which to build the campaign. Steve Bruno from Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership commissioned filmmaker extraordinaire, Goh Iromoto to shoot five stories:

1) A couple chasing the Group of Seven in Algonquin Park

2) A young olympic hopeful training on the Madawaska River

3) A new Canadian exploring Canada through the canoe

4) A family keeping connected through shared paddling trips in Quetico

5) An amazing woman in the Lakehead who is teaching Ojibway youth about who they are through the building of bark canoes.

As this film trailer shows, the results are amazing. The hope is that all the full spectrum of tourism operators from wineries, to outfitters, accommodations, restaurants, lodges, boat rental facilities, etc. etc. will get behind the idea to join this campaign to promote their products and businesses under the Canadian Canoe Culture banner.

You're going to hear a lot more about this in the weeks and months to come but I can tell you that the Canadian Canoe Museum is very excited about this, not only because it will get more people out canoeing but because we think more people getting into and/or involved with canoeing will make Ontario (and Canada) stronger, healthier, happier and more united as we head into this Sesquicentennial year.

Check out the trailer! You'll recognize some of the people, perhaps, as well as some of the places, including the Museum's collection storage! The full feature film will launch in February at the Reel Paddling Film Festival in Toronto.

The Canoe by Goh Iromoto on Vimeo

Looking Closely: Treatment of a Birch Bark Canoe. (Part One)

The Canadian Canoe Museum has taken the first steps in the conservation of an 18th century birch bark canoe. This canoe has only recently returned to its country of origin after laying in Cornwall England for over 200 years. Through a Fleming College internship placement from the Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program, the museum has put intern Lauren Tregenza to work on the preliminary stages of this project. This is an important first step for closer analysis and treatment of this historic birch bark canoe.

The closer I looked at this 18th century watercraft, the more questions and mysteries arose. When I first encountered the canoe I remember being struck by how beautiful the damaged remains were. The canoe appears almost skeletal, revealing glimpses of the inner rib structure. The bark has faded to a pale tone which gives it an almost ghostly feel. After this initial impression, I began to look more closely at the condition of the artifact and recorded these observations in what museums call a ‘condition report.’ This stage feels like detective work. I use various tools such as a magnifying glass, a handheld microscope and macro photography. This first step in conservation treatment can aid in the understanding of an object through careful inspection, documentation and analysis.

This act of looking is informed by knowledge of the materials that the object is made out of. In this case the materials are birch bark, cedar, spruce, iron, resin, pigments, canvas and potentially other unidentified materials. The more materials an object is composed of the more complicated is its condition. Each material has its own tendencies and vulnerabilities. All these factors play upon each other and have influenced the current state of this birch bark canoe.

In addition to these shifting components are all of the scrapes, fractures, holes and stains that the object now carries. Some of these elements can be improved upon, some may be irreversible and some illuminate secrets concerning manufacture or use. Full restoration is not always desirable, as this can harm the aged materials of the object and erase the stories that old scars may provide. Treatment details will be discussed in Part Two of this series.

Birch bark canoes are ephemeral objects if left exposed to the elements, which is why there are not many old examples. This canoe could potentially be one of the oldest examples available at over 200 years old. When looking at construction techniques, the canoe also has many stories. Traditional birch bark canoe building techniques were used to build the original object.  Not all aspects are traditional however. The ends have been repaired and covered in canvas which has been skillfully painted to match the bark in colour and texture. There is another repair where a thick canvas patch has been wrapped around a portion of the hull. All these elements are now a part of the history of the object.

 Tune in for part 2 of this series which will detail the conservation treatment of this canoe.


Key to dimensional changes diagram.

a.     Gunwales: Want to straighten to their original form, are no longer held in place by lashings.

b.     Spruce root: Will become brittle and loose the necessary strength to bind the structure. This causes the gunwales to separate from the structure.

c.     Ribs: Are expanding horizontally over time, since there is no pressure being exerted on them by the now fractured gunwales. This action pushes out the gunwales and stresses the birch bark cover.

d.     Birch bark: Will curve in upon itself as moisture moves through the bark.

e.     Previous Repairs: Canvas covered ends and older repairs near the centre.

f.      Sheathing: As the canoe unravels, large sections of sheathing are loose. Sheathing should be held in place between the ribs and bark cover through pressure.

g.     Thwarts: They are missing. They would have helped to counteract the force of the ribs pushing on the hull. 

Giving Tuesday - A Day of Global Giving

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that happens each year after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year it will be taking place on November 29th.

It is a time when Canadians, charities and businesses come together to celebrate giving and participate in activities that support charities and not-for-profits. Last year, over 4,700 charities and business’s participated and over 5 million Canadians showed their support.

After a tremendous effort from our members, volunteers and supporters, The Canadian Canoe Museum was unfortunately not selected to be a finalist in the AVIVA Community Fund project this year. However, the staff and volunteers at the Canoe Museum are still working towards raising the funds necessary to purchase our very own van, trailer hitch package, and enclosed trailer. With Giving Tuesday quickly approaching we are asking for your help to get there!

Museum staff and volunteers portaging canoes in downtown Peterborough

Museum staff and volunteers portaging canoes in downtown Peterborough

Our dream van for outreach programming!

Our dream van for outreach programming!

The purchase of a van, trailer hitch package and enclosed trailer will assist with the transportation of children to summer paddling day camps and multi-day canoe trips, travel to schools to provide outreach programming, transport of artifacts to stage exhibits at partner museums, transport of watercraft and interactive educational opportunities to community events and to tow a enclosed trailer to camps and canoe trip launch sites.

The Canadian Canoe Museum is committed to leading locally, reaching out nationally, learning from and with First Peoples in Canada and bringing our collection of watercraft to life to share the historical and cultural importance of the canoe.

On November 29th, support the Museum by donating on our Giving Tuesday webpage. Or give us a call at 705-748-9153 to make your donation.