Invest in a National Asset

The following appeared as a guest column in The Peterborough Examiner.


I have followed the deliberations of City Council regarding the requested $4 Million investment in the Canadian Canoe Museum relocation project. In the interests of disclosure, I am a partisan observer. I am a director on the Museum Board and have been a member of the organization for over 20 years. I am also a residential and business taxpayer. It is from my taxpayer perspective I encourage our Council members to reconsider their early and preliminary decision to invest only 50% of the $4 Million recommended by City staff for ‘inclusion’ in the City budget.

I respect the stewardship of municipal resources by our Councillors and do not envy the difficult choices they must make among numerous competing, often compelling, and meritorious requests for funding, not to mention meeting the service and infrastructure needs of the community. At the same time, we expect the investment of tax funds will be well considered, provide tangible and intangible returns and build capacity, opportunity and profile for our community. With these investment objectives in mind, how do I, a taxpayer, view this particular investment?

First, consider the investment. A facility built in partnership with Parks Canada that will house and exhibit the finest and most extensive collection of watercraft in the world. A facility that will continue to attract national and international focus in terms of education, historical, and cultural learnings; a convening and gathering space for all of our Communities, Indigenous, Ethnic and other; a construction project contributing $86 Million of economic betterment to our city in a five year construction and development program, creating 820 full time equivalent jobs over these five years; an organization that will, as a destination, contribute ongoing visitor/tourist revenue to the region of at least $5-6 Million per year; and a national and provincial asset already endorsed by the two senior governments. As a citizen “investor”, I consider these ‘returns’ to represent a significant opportunity.

As a taxpayer, what are our costs to make this investment? On a population base of 81,032, the $4 Million requested investment is $49 per person; and if invested over four years, it is $12.34 per person per year ($9.87 per person if paid over five years). On the same population base, what is the tangible return (dollars and cents) on this investment. The overall economic benefits of building and operating

the new facility over the first five years, will generate revenue of $1,061.00 per person (for the cost $49). The ongoing operating return after five years of at least $5-6 Million annually is $69 per person per year (more than my initial per person cost). In summary, a Peterborough resident will make a one-time investment of $49 in the new Museum for a return of $1,061 over the first five years and $69 per year thereafter. From a cost/return analysis, most would agree this is an exceptional investment.

Are there risks? Certainly, but any risks are widely shared. Both levels of government, the private and public sectors, business community and national foundations across Canada, all who collectively are contributing the other $61 Million to the project, would not invest if not convinced of the need and benefit of what they consider to be a national iconic asset. We should take some considerable comfort in these diverse, generous and considered investments by others.

While all communities struggle to differentiate themselves in the competitive world of job creation, visitor attraction and destination attractiveness, it is interesting to see how municipal leadership in other Canadian communities is approaching investment in similar cultural facilities/projects. Saskatoon invested $30.2 Million in their new $83.0 Million Remai Art Gallery (36% of project). Thunder Bay - $5 Million in the New Art Gallery ($15% of project); Winnipeg – Inuit Art Centre - $5 Million (8% of $60 Million). The $4 Million requested of our City is 6% of the project. Of the numerous recent investments by the City in public/private partnership developments (YMCA, YWCA, Hospice, Humane Society) the municipal contributions/investments have all exceeded 15% of project costs. These investments have brought significant benefit in infrastructure, services and programming to taxpayers. The Canoe Museum will be no different. It will be a national asset, built by Canadians from across Canada, and few communities in Canada can make that claim.

Will the reduction to a $2 Million investment adversely affect the project? In absolute dollar terms, perhaps minimally (although all money is important). It will however, raise significant questions among the national and provincial government partners, and public and private donors. The first question donors always ask is “Does the municipality support, endorse and financially contribute to the project?”. Our Council professes ‘full support’ for the Museum project, yet has reduced its staff recommended investment by 50%. If I was another investor, would that bring a seed of doubt to my mind? The cost of this decision to the project will not be $2 Million in reduction, it will be the unknown dollars not contributed because we lack a satisfactory answer to the donor question and perceived lack of municipal commitment. With respect, “full support”, in the face of the recommendation, is not shown by a 50% reduction.

Personally, as a taxpayer, I am a consistent supporter of what I call public/private investment and partnerships. It is a concept we encourage and practice in our business. It takes courage to collaborate, supported by a mutual willingness to make investments that will benefit all sectors of our community. It takes strong municipal leadership to send the right message. I remember, “Peterborough – Open for Business”. If we really are, and we are astute investors, we will partner with the others who are willing to contribute $61 Million with the City’s $4 Million to give us this national asset. Wearing my “taxpayer” hat, this is a good investment, a unique opportunity – not to be missed!

Canadian Canoe Museum aims to build more momentum with bigger push from the City of Peterborough

The following appeared as a guest column in Peterborough This Week.


On behalf of the people of Canada, the Canadian Canoe Museum stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft.

As part of our responsibility for this cultural asset of national significance, we are building it a new home that aspires to be as innovative as the canoe itself.

The new museum will care for the collection the way it deserves to be cared for — preserving, protecting and showcasing it for generations to come. After all, this world class collection carries with it stories of significance that inspire connection, curiosity and new understanding.

Like the craft in the collection moved through the waterways they once travelled with increasing strength and speed, the new museum project has momentum.

At its core, there’s the collection  that already attracts tens of thousands of schoolchildren, community members and visitors every year.

Then, we added water. The new museum will be located alongside the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock on one of the country’s most celebrated waterways  as part of an innovative partnership with Parks Canada.

  • Award-winning architecture.  A sophisticated, yet simple, and sustainable architectural design was chosen as part of a two-stage  international competition.
  • Startup funding:  The City of Peterborough and Founder’s Circle donors generously supported the museum in getting the project off the ground and their support continues today.
  • Government funding: The province of Ontario and the Government of Canada have made foundational investments in the new museum. The provincial government has contributed $9 million and the federal government $1.4 million. A second funding application for $13.6 million is before the federal government right now.
  • Private funding: A number of leadership donors are already on board and philanthropists from coast-to-coast-to-coast are interested in investing.
  • New spaces and new opportunities: The Exhibition Galleries and Collection Centre will see the entire collection accessible as part of the visitor experience. (Right now, 80 per cent is stored away.)

There will be more classroom and workshop spaces, a library and archives, and a pavilion at the water’s edge. The Galleria will be open to the public at no charge and the prefunction and event spaces will accommodate seating for up to 400. These will be one-of-a-kind, much-needed spaces for Peterborough and the surrounding area.

  • Extraordinary visitor experiences: The museum has partnered with a world-class exhibition design firm to ensure that the collection will not only be exhibited, but experienced, by all those who visit. There will be on-water programming and much more.
  • Economic impact: The overall economic  impact of the museum’s operations and the new museum is estimated to be $86 million over the next five years. This will support 820 jobs. Once the new museum is complete, there will be an estimated $5.6 million in visitor spending in the City of Peterborough every year.

Momentum is defined as the “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events” (Merriam-Webster). The new museum project has it, and the board, staff and volunteers will do everything  in their power to keep it going.

Next Monday (Dec. 11), we will ask for city council’s commitment of $4 million to this project of national scope and significance. This complete commitment from the City of Peterborough is required to demonstrate strong support and local leadership.

Investors from across the country are looking to follow the city’s lead and most immediately, this contribution would allow us to leverage additional funds from the federal government.

At this pivotal point in our journey, we call upon the City of Peterborough to propel us forward.

John Ronson chairs the Canadian Canoe Museum Board of Directors as a volunteer.

An update to our community

From Carolyn Hyslop, General Manager &

John Ronson, Chair, Board of Directors


Peterborough is already home to the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft – a cultural asset of national significance. This, in itself, is incredible.

With the construction of the new museum at the Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway will come an additional asset for the community – one that contributes to the city’s economic growth and development.

Earlier this week, as part of its 2018 budget review, city council voted to support the new museum with a $2 million contribution. A significant contribution indeed, it is exactly half what the museum had requested.

The Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, along with several early donors, have demonstrated their leadership with investments in the new museum. The provincial government has contributed $9 million and the federal government $1.4 million. A second funding application for $13.6 million is before the federal government right now.

The $4 million contribution from the City of Peterborough is fundamental to the future of the project.

Council’s complete commitment is required to demonstrate strong support and local leadership. Potential funders and private donors from across the country are looking to follow the city’s lead. Most immediately, council’s $4 million commitment would allow the museum to leverage funds from the federal government.

At $4 million, council’s contribution would be six per cent of the $65 million project cost – lower than some other new cultural infrastructure projects in Canada. For example, the City of Thunder Bay is contributing 15 per cent of the total project cost of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, while the City of Saskatoon is contributing 36 per cent to the Remai Modern Art Gallery.

The museum will have another opportunity to address council before the budget is finalized. On December 11, we will emphasize two things: the new museum’s extraordinary economic benefits AND the critical importance of council’s complete commitment.

Return on investment

The overall economic impact of the museum’s operations and its redevelopment project is estimated to be $86 million over the next five years. This will support 820 jobs.

Once the museum is complete, there will be an estimated $5.6 million visitor spend in the City of Peterborough annually.

Between now and December 11, museum board, staff and volunteers, along with community members will be mobilizing to share these important messages. We ask that you join us now – and at City Hall in less than two weeks.

We thank you for your continued support, and should you have any questions or comments, please reach out to either of us.


Carolyn Hyslop, General Manager

John Ronson, Chair, Board of Directors

Christmas Shopping at the Canoe Museum

Here at The Canadian Canoe Museum, we have a wide selection of unique gift ideas! With gifts including locally made jewelry and kitchenwaremuseum memberships and adopted canoes, we're hoping you can check a few people off your shopping list!


Shop Tumblehome

The Tumblehome Shop is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience carrying a carefully curated selection of products from local artisans, canoe-culture inspired gifts, and all things Canadiana. Tumblehome’s goal is to offer something for everyone while supporting the made-in-Canada movement!


Visitors are delighted with the wide selection of canoe themed clothing, artisan crafts, jewelry, books and housewares with a special focus on local and Canadian made goods. 

Gift store hours are the same as the museum's, or you can shop online at our new store!


Gift an Artisan Workshop

Artisan workshops provide a unique opportunity to learn a new skill. In some of the most popular workshops, participants learn paddle carving, moccasin making or wood burning. These events give the opportunity to meet new people and spend time at the museum.

In 2018, new workshops will include: Paint a Decorative Paddle, Woodburing a Decorative Paddle, Beading a Puzzle Pouch and more!


The ever-popular HBC Coat Workshop and the Seat Caning Workshop will be returning as well. With such a wide variety to choose from, it is easy to find a gift for even those most difficult to buy for!

Adopt a Canoe.jpeg

Adopt a Canoe

You can symbolically adopt a canoe in the name of a friend of loved one! Choose from the great dugouts of the Pacific Northwest, birch bark canoes, cedar-canvas canoes and more! This is a unique way to support The Canadian Canoe Museum and a chance to be truly creative in your gift giving.


Give the Gift of Membership

Members of the museum receive many special benefits. In addition to free admission, members receive discounts on programs and merchandise. All members receive access to VIP information through a members-only newsletter! Memberships can be purchased for individuals, families, grandparents, seniors or students.


Happy Shopping!

Check Out Our Amazing Line-Up of Workshops!

We are so excited to announce the full 2018 line-up of Artisan Workshops here at the Canadian Canoe Museum! This is the largest selection of classes we’ve ever offered in one year, and thanks to our amazing workshop instructors it’s sure to be the best. 


Some of the newest additions in 2018 are; Pyrography on a Paddle, Painting a Decorative Paddle, Canoe Trip Menu Planning 101 (where you'll cook a whole meal and eat it at our dining hall picnic table), Carving a Canoe Pole, and Making a Beaded Puzzle Pouch (if you want to see a video that shows the opening of a puzzle pouch click here). 

After a few years off, the Hudson’s Bay Blanket Coat Workshop and the Canoe Seat Caning Workshop will be returning.

Of course there’s always the Paddle Carving Workshop - our bestseller, and the Canoe Restoration and Winter Moccasin Workshops - which sell out every year too. 

We love to see the sense of accomplishment on our participant's faces when they're trying out a leather bag they just made, showing off their finished moccasins to a friend, learning a new recipe, mastering a beading technique, or trying on their wet-felted scarf. Whether you're looking for something fun to do with a friend, want to make a unique piece of gear, or simply want to test out a new hobby we have a workshop for you.

Check out the irresistible images below and click the photos for more information on each workshop!