Although canoes were invented as a method of transportation, they have transitioned into a pleasure craft accessible to all. Our newest exhibit, Artisan and Industry, shares the story of canoe manufacturing, and it illustrates how this industry impacted Peterborough.

In order to celebrate the new exhibit, we’ve been collecting family canoe stories. We wanted to learn about specific canoes and hear why each vessel is special to an individual or family. In June, we asked people to share photos and memories while using the hashtag #OurCanoeStory.

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We received a lot of stories about romantic relationships beginning in canoes. Several people received canoes as wedding presents, and they shared about the canoe trips taken with their spouse. Many shared childhood memories of paddling with their family. We heard stories of breathtaking moments experienced inside a canoe, such as a woman who witnessed a moose just feet away from her family’s boat. Some shared stories from outside the canoe and described the peaceful feeling drawn from watching the rhythmic paddling. Many of these canoes seemed to be transformed from an object into a member of the family. We heard of several canoes with names, such as The Lily Dipper and Battle Axe.

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Submissions were accepted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and we encouraged people to email stories as well. The contest ran for 10 weeks, and each week, we selected one winner. Thanks to social media, the contest was not limited to people from Peterborough or even Ontario. Some of our winners are located in Quebec, British Columbia and Nevada.

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The contest is over, and prizes have been distributed. Although we’re done formally collecting canoe stories, we still want to hear from you! What’s your canoe story? Feel free to share it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #OurCanoeStory!