The Canadian Canoe Museum is on the Move

The Canadian Canoe Museum will be moving to a new home that will physically connect the more than 600 watercraft in its collection to the waterways of the country. This new facility will be located beside the Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site on the Trent-Severn Waterway, bringing together two of the region’s most significant sites. 

The museum is moving forward on the project with much momentum thanks to an incredible project team, strong support on all fronts and key partners in redevelopment, the City of Peterborough and Parks Canada.

The new museum's award-winning architecture has been envisioned with, and for, its community, and the facility will be a leader in 21st century sustainable design. Purpose-built for the collection, the new museum will be the high-profile hub of the organization and the headquarters from which it reaches out across the country – inspiring connection, curiosity and new understanding.

 This new museum will offer enhanced opportunities for Canadian families to better explore the canoe’s history in Canada as well as enjoy the diverse on-water programming and associated activities that can be offered at this new location.

This new museum will offer enhanced opportunities for Canadian families to better explore the canoe’s history in Canada as well as enjoy the diverse on-water programming and associated activities that can be offered at this new location.

The facility will be as innovative as the collection itself, and will play a key role in the stewardship of this national cultural asset. The redevelopment project and all it encompasses and enables will allow the organization to realize fully its role as a national museum. In addition, the organization is laying the groundwork for a success capital campaign that will rely on support locally, provincially and nationally. 

 The new building design was selected in January 2016 after a two-stage international architectural design competition.

The new building design was selected in January 2016 after a two-stage international architectural design competition.

 The museum’s stunning green roof will provide a community green-space with fantastic views to the Lift Lock. 

The museum’s stunning green roof will provide a community green-space with fantastic views to the Lift Lock. 

World-Class Exhibition Design Firm Joins New Museum Project

The Canadian Canoe Museum partners with GSM Project following a nationwide selection process


PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – The Canadian Canoe Museum will partner with world-class exhibition design firm GSM Project to create one-of-a-kind visitor experiences at its new building beside the Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

GSM Project, with offices in Montreal, Dubai and Singapore, will work with the organization to ensure that the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft is not only exhibited, but experienced, by all those who visit the new museum at the water’s edge.

Following a nationwide request for proposals and an in-depth selection process, GSM Project has been chosen to work alongside staff and the Exhibit Design Committee to create visitor experiences in two key areas of the new museum:

  • Exhibition Galleries - Approximately 21,000 square feet of Class A (curatorial standard) exhibit space expected to feature 10 to 12 galleries.
  • Collections Centre - Approximately 28,000 square feet of Class A (curatorial standard) open storage space, featuring more than 500 full-sized watercraft stored on individual mounts and arranged on racking systems, and artifacts.

For the first time, the museum’s entire collection will be on site and totally accessible as part of the visitor experience.

The Canadian Canoe Museum will join GSM Project’s repertoire of more than 1,000 exhibit design and production projects in more than 120 cities worldwide.

GSM Project was the lead designer of the new Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History – the largest exhibition about Canadian history ever developed. The 40,000 square-foot exhibition opened July 1, 2017. GSM Project has also recently completed The Alaska Gallery at the Anchorage Museum; Human at the Montreal Science Centre; three of the galleries at the new Canada Science and Technology Museum; and the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“We are proud to have been in a position to meet with some of the world’s leading exhibit design firms as part of this selection process,” says Jeremy Ward, Curator at The Canadian Canoe Museum.

“The GSM Project team members will bring their international experience, a deep affinity for Canadian heritage, and an appreciation of our unique collection and its incredible potential to the table. Together, we aspire to strengthen the museum’s connections with communities across the country and are confident that the result of our work will be something very special that will engage our visitors in new and surprising ways. We cannot wait to get started.”

“A great community deserves a great museum,” says Yves Mayrand, President and Chief Creative Officer of GSM Project. “The renewed Canoe Museum will serve as a nucleus not only for Peterborough but also for all those who are passionate about canoes, Canada’s waterways, and that love of the outdoors that unites us all. Like so many visitors before us, we have fairly fallen in love with The Canadian Canoe Museum, and we look forward to helping this institution’s talented and dedicated team realize the bold vision they have for this transformation.”

About GSM Project

GSM Project specializes in the creation and production of visitor experiences. Based in Montreal, Canada, since its founding in 1958, the company also has offices in Dubai and Singapore and collaborates with a wide range of clients all over the world to create immersive, educational, and memorable visitor experiences. GSM Project has designed exhibitions for major museums across the globe, such as the National Museum of Singapore, the Canadian Museum of History, the Anchorage Museum in Alaska, and the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City.

Canoe Museum Announces Completion of Concept Design Phase

Form Follows Function at the New Museum


The new museum project continues to progress with much momentum. 

The first phase of the project, concept design, is complete, and it will be followed by: schematic design, detailed design and finally, construction documents. 

In concept design, museum staff and volunteers worked with the architect team to create preliminary floor plans and elevations. These are based on the functional requirements of the organization. In other words, the design team worked to answer the question “What spaces do we need and where do they need to be – to deliver upon our mission.” 

Many stakeholders and advisors were included in concept design. They contributed to extensive discussion, broad based consultation and decision-making. There are several significant developments

 The Collections Centre, which will house the museum’s entire collection and be totally accessible as part of the visitor experience, will become a Category A collecting facility. This high level curatorial standard will allow the museum to borrow artifacts from other distinguished museums in North America, and beyond. The Board of Directors believes that Category A is in the best interests of the collection. With this decision comes upgraded, much more sophisticated mechanical systems as well as the space they require. 

The height of the building has been decreased. 

The building will have a lower profile overall and as such, be more site sensitive. As a result, additional square footage will be required in the Collections Centre. Simply put, the museum will require additional floor space as the lowered ceiling height will reduce some elevated display areas. 

Lower Level.jpg

 The size of two important public spaces has been increased: The first is the pre-function space outside the multipurpose room. This space supports the multipurpose room by providing a pre-event gathering space. This will be used for check-in tables and coffee breaks at conferences, and for cocktails and gathering before dinner and wedding receptions. This space complements and adds capacity to what is already a one-of-kind, much needed space for Peterborough and the surrounding area. The museum will draw large-scale events, which will contribute significantly to community capacity and local economic growth. 

The second is the galleria space, which is the wide hallway that winds along the waterway – adjacent to the serpentine glass wall. This space celebrates the connection to the historic Trent-Severn Waterway and is the passage where visitors will circulate through the museum. It will be a space that is free, open and accessible to the public – a space to warm up in the wintertime after skating on the canal, or to cool down after a paddle or a yoga class on the green roof. 

These are significant, but important developments in the design of the new museum and the Board has carefully considered each one of them. In addition, and as part of this phase, a class D costing was undertaken by the Altus Group Ltd. indicating increased cost in the range of approximately $10M to $15M. As is the case with every capital project, costing will be advanced and refined with every subsequent phase. 

The Board is confident that the museum, as planned in this first phase of the project, is the one required to fulfill our role as stewards of this one of a kind collection, and to deliver on our mission. Peterborough, Ontario, and Canada deserve a museum they can truly be proud of, one that appropriately stewards, preserves and exhibits the collection and one that is sustainable well into the future. 

We will continue to provide updates as the project progresses, and appreciate your continued support as The Canadian Canoe Museum moves onto the national stage. 

Interior View_02.jpg

THE NEXT PHASE of the project is schematic design. This phase will see the design team advance the concept design by adding depths to walls and floors, adding doors, furthering key elevations and much more. Decisions related to landscape, parking and site plans, furniture placement and lighting, and mechanical systems are within the scope of this phase. 

Capital Campaign Update

The campaign team continues to be buoyed by the strong connection to, and affinity for, the new museum project. There has been a great deal of generosity from early leadership donors, and several gift announcements will be shared in the coming months. In addition, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada have provided exceptional leadership and a solid foundation for the museum’s fundraising campaign. Over the next few months, the museum team will continue its conversations with the City of Peterborough along with Peterborough County. 

To support the important developments in the concept design phase, the museum will be raising more money through its national fund raising campaign. The Board has committed to an increased fundraising target and campaign that involves individuals and corporations from coast to coast to coast. At this time, it is estimated that 90% of private donations will come from across the country. 

A cabinet, with national representation from across the country, will lead this broad-based campaign, seeking to raise funds from donors in all provinces and territories. 

Ontario Invests in expansion of The Canadian Canoe Museum

On May 26th, 2017 the Honourable Jeff Leal, MPP Peterborough and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced $9 million in funding from the Province of Ontario for the Museum's redevelopment

 “This investment from the Province of Ontario is nothing short of transformational for the future of The Canadian Canoe Museum, as well as for Peterborough, the region, the province and the country as a whole. On behalf of all those from around the world, who will be inspired by the museum's world-class collection from its new high-profile headquarters, we are grateful,” said John Ronson, Chair, Board of Directors. 
Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 1.39.16 PM.png

Canadian Cultural Spaces funding announced for new Canadian Canoe Museum

On February 24th, 2017 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.

With this funding, the organization will proceed with the pre-construction phase of the new museum. The Museum's architects heneghen peng, of Dublin, and Kearns Mancini, of Toronto, will work on the detailed design planning, while specialist consultants will continue their work to completion. At the end of this phase, the organization will be prepared to proceed with the construction of the new museum.

“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 that will become the high-profile hub of the organization and the headquarters from which it reaches out across the country,” says Bill Morris, Chair, Board of Directors. “The museum's world-class collection is indeed, a cultural asset of national significance, and we are building it a new home that will aspire to be as innovative as the canoe itself. And we are so pleased to be doing it with the support of Canadian Heritage. The new museum, once complete, will care for the collection the way it deserves to be cared for – and preserve it, protect it, and showcase it for generations to come.”


The museum is so pleased to now be able to say that this project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

For more information about the Cultural Spaces Funding announcement for The Canadian Canoe Museum, visit our blog.

Global award-winning architects, award-winning design

The visionary design for the new museum was created by  heneghan peng architects of Dublin, Ireland, in a joint venture with Toronto's Kearns Mancini Architects, and Foggy River Farm, Landscape Architects.

The Irish-Canadian team won the international architectural design competition for the museum’s redevelopment. The team's elegant, serpentine glass pavilion graced by a stunning green roof, was chosen as part of the two-stage competition. The first stage of the competition garnered close to 100 submissions from around the world. More Information about the Request for Qualifications process,  and Stage 2 Selected Firms is available here. 

In late 2016, the team was presented with a prestigious Canadian Architect Award of Merit for the design of the new museum. The jury commended The Canadian Canoe Museum design team for reinforcing the connection to the waterways where canoes have travelled and highlighted the multiple viewpoints of the Lift Locks that visitors will be able to enjoy.

May 26, 2017-  Supporting Tourism in the Peterborough Area - News Release from Jeff Leal, MPP Peterborough

February 24, 2017-  Supporting Cultural Spaces in Peterborough - News Release from Canadian Heritage

December 1, 2016-  Canadian Canoe Museum design team receives 2016 Canadian Architect Award of Merit

May 19, 2016-  Architectural Inspiration Revealed - community members invited to hear from the new museum's architectural team

May 5, 2016-  The Canadian Canoe Museum takes the next step in its redevelopment project

January 21, 2016 - Visionary Design Announced for the New Canadian Canoe Museum

May 20, 2015 – Canadian Canoe Museum Selects Architects for Stage 2 Limited Design Competition

April 23, 2015 – Canadian Canoe Museum Takes Another Step Towards Relocating to the Peterborough Lift Lock

April 9, 2014 –  Parks Canada and Canadian Canoe Museum Consider Potential Relocation of Museum to Peterborough Lift Lock