Behind the Scenes at The Canadian Canoe Museum

I'm a second-year Public Relations student at Durham College, and I've spent the past 14 weeks on placement at The Canadian Canoe Museum. As the marketing and media relations intern, I've been able to watch the summer unfold with an insider's perspective. 

From my first visit to The Canadian Canoe Museum, I knew this wouldn’t be just any internship. My suspicions were confirmed when my supervisor, Marketing & Media Relations Manager Jessica Fleury, asked me if I would be willing to spend my first week on a canoe trip, an outreach initiative of the museum called Connected by Canoe, to take care of social media posts and interact with any media.

“Um... Yes?!” I exclaimed, overjoyed at the thought of getting out on the water. So, on my second day of placement, the trip began. I was already exhausted from moving into my new apartment the day before, and from sleeping on the floor since I had no furniture, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying this opportunity.

 
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I spent the week running around, glued to my phone as I took photos and frantically tweeted. Although it was my first week, I already had the opportunity to interact with media who stopped to question us at events. On a personal level, the trip gave me the opportunity to meet 15 other paddlers and know them individually. Spending my first week in a canoe allowed me to feel like I was already a part of the team by the time we left the trip.

After returning from Connected by Canoe, I was excited to experience my first week in the office. This week seemed to pass even more quickly than the last, as I received many calls from Jessica, who was now on the trip, with new tasks and opportunities. For some reason, I thought life would slow down after Connected by Canoe was over. I’m glad to say I was very wrong! June was even busier than May. There was no shortage of work to be done, so I was often able to work on projects an intern wouldn’t normally handle.

One of my first projects in May allowed me to take on the communications planning and implementation for a Museum fundraiser, Touch a Truck! Responsibilities included sending out a media release, designing and putting up posters, and attending the event to take photos.

 
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I had the opportunity to plan my first media event on July 11. The museum had received a donation of 14 televisions from Cogeco, so we hosted a small media event to publicly acknowledge their generosity. Although donations are not always breaking news, we happened to plan the event on the perfect day, and we ended up with great media coverage.

During my internship, I was also able to put my design skills to the test, while designing a rack card for the 2017 Beaver Club Gala. This task required me to take photos, remove the background in Photoshop, and lay out the text. It felt great to hold the final product in my hands after completing the process.

Other projects I took on included promoting Great Canadian Giving Challenge in June, collecting and organizing submissions for the Our Canoe Story contest, and providing KawarthaNOW with information for our web advertisements. I also wrote a variety of news releases, scheduled hundreds of social media posts, and sent out the general newsletter each month.

 
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It was exciting to be a part of the museum for significant milestones, such as the 20th anniversary, and the announcement of 9 million dollars in provincial funding toward the redevelopment project. I learned a lot about canoes and a lot about other businesses in Peterborough. I got to know each staff member at the museum, and I learned a lot about myself.

I often smiled to myself as I thought of classmates who were likely fetching coffee while I was writing press releases – or better yet, exploring under the Peterborough Lift Lock. In addition to incredible learning opportunities, my time at the museum provided me with a variety of behind-the-scenes experiences. I was able to meet Parka, Parks Canada’s mascot, attend a voyageur canoe tour, and learn about important announcements before they happened. It was common for my work day to be interrupted with requests to photograph a school group at the Lift Lock or assist with moving a canoe. Sometimes, “moving a canoe” meant paddling it from one place to another!

The past 14 weeks have been unforgettable. The museum transitioned from a place I had barely heard of, to a place that felt like home. If you’ve never been to The Canadian Canoe Museum, you need to go. You will be welcomed in by smiling volunteers, the largest collection of paddled watercraft in the world, and the peaceful feeling you would expect while paddling a canoe.