When I walked through the door of the Canadian Canoe Museum in August of 2008, I had no idea what I was getting into. OK, maybe that’s not 100% true. I knew that the CCM had an amazing collection of canoes and kayaks and I knew about the Museum’s history at Kandalore and at Monaghan Road. I had even seen the canoes in the log building at Camp Kandalore back in the mid 1980s. Those were the facts of the story. I knew a little about what the Canoe Museum was, but I didn’t have any idea who the museum was. Now I do.
It has been a remarkable journey since Interim General Manager Pat Hooper performed the traditional change-of-command ritual (in other words, she gave me her keys and showed me where the coffee pot was). What I’ve learned since then is that the Canadian Canoe Museum is a very big pile of canoes that is held together by people. Board, Staff, Volunteers, Members, Volunteers, Visitors and Friends—together they are what makes the Museum the truly remarkable place that it is. From my esteemed colleague and peripatetic Executive Director James Raffan, to the Staff and Volunteers who have given so much of themselves every single day, to the Board Members who exercised sound judgement and governance (and occasionally held my feet to the fire) to all of those who share the dream of this Museum across the country and beyond, it’s the people that make this place go.
After five and a half intense and fulfilling years, during which I have thought about and worked for the Museum most of my waking hours (and some of my sleeping hours too), I’m going to say farewell to the CCM in early December, and in January 2014 I’ll be starting a new job. In a sense, I’ll be returning to my roots, and to the interests that brought me into the museum business more than two decades ago, because I’ll once again be working as a curator, caring for artifacts and using them to tell stories and understand the lives of the people who made, used and treasured them.
As I move on “to green fields and pastures new” as the poem says, I promise to do what the Museum asks all of those who care for it to do: Join, Support and Share. Join as a member (as I have). Support the Museum in the way that best suits you (I’ve adopted a canoe for five years). Share the story of this remarkable place and where it’s going by blogging, tweeting, linking, writing or just plain telling your friends (which I have done and will continue to do whenever the opportunity presents itself). I will miss this place and everyone who makes it what it is, and I wish you all the best.