CCM 3.0: Reimagining the Canadian Canoe Museum

Red Chestnut Prospector canoe of legendary canoeist, author and filmmaker Bill Mason (1929-1988) (Photo courtesy of John Summers, Canadian Canoe Museum)

Photo: Red Chestnut Prospector canoe of legendary canoeist, author and filmmaker Bill Mason (1929-1988) (Photo courtesy of John Summers, Canadian Canoe Museum)


James Raffan

Expanding the narrative, Community

Published Date: Jan 28, 2011

A decade has passed since the permanent exhibits at The Canadian Canoe Museum (CCM) were opened to great acclaim. Funded with help from the federal Millennium Program, built by dedicated staff and volunteers, and featuring 117 canoes (about one-fifth of the growing collection), these superb exhibits have been enjoyed by more than a 250,000 visitors since 2000.

“All good,” says General Manager John Summers, “but all exhibits have a shelf life. Ours are approaching their best before date. That’s why we need to be exploring ways to refresh our message and the ways in which we engage the public imagination.”

Since his arrival in August 2008, Summers has led the museum’s transformation. His popular Clutter Reduction Aids Productivity (CRAP) program began in the administration hallway with enthusiastic staff “repurposing” furniture and files dating back to the days when the Outboard Marine Corporation occupied what is now the Weston Exhibit Centre. House-cleaning moved from the hall to accounting, budgeting, canoe storage, membership communications, website and volunteer recognition. Keeping the museum’s mandate front and centre, Summers has inspired the CCM community to reimagine what the museum is and could be.

“If the Kanawa International Museum at Camp Kandalore was CCM 1.0, then this is CCM 2.0,” said Summers. “Our next incarnation, which is what we’re working toward now, is CCM 3.0. It’s all about reaching out with a new story for the museum.”

That new story is just four words that became the title of a new strategic plan. “Onto the National Stage” embodies the spirit of renewal and signals the collective drive to find ways to expand the organization and make it relevant and exciting to all who visit, whether virtually or in person. The new 10-year plan details two main priorities, both predicated on partnerships with government and the private sector and timed to coincide with significant events such as the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s Trent-Severn travels in 2015 and Canada’s Sesquicentennial in 2017.

The first priority is making the organization strong and sustainable – to strengthen and secure all revenue streams (and find new ones where possible) and to build a robust local, regional and national constituency. This can be accomplished through innovative programming, creative new exhibits, initiatives to boost membership and inclusive citizen-driven programs like National Canoe Day.

The second priority – the dream – is to move the museum to a new facility on the water in downtown Peterborough. This will connect the canoes to Canada’s waterways. It will provide the collection and exhibits with the state-of-the-art environmental controls that they do not currently enjoy. Finally, this move will create a national canoe centre and cultural hub in a multi-purpose, marquee tourist attraction. This economic driver for the Kawartha Region will feed and nurture canoe interests across the country and beyond.

To learn more about The Canadian Canoe Museum or to request a copy of its new strategic plan, visit