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.