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Our Journey

Our Journey

The Canadian Canoe Museum, located on the Traditional Territory of the Williams Treaties First Nations in Peterborough, Ontario, has stewarded, for the last 27 years, the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. More than 600 in number, these watercraft and their stories have a pivotal role to play in understanding our past and our collective future.

From the Exhibition Hall to the Lakefront Campus, we offer a variety of ways to connect with the land, water, and canoe, whether you are an avid paddler, history buff, or an adventurous family!

Founded on a collection of the late Professor Kirk Wipper and established in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1997, the Museum’s holdings now number more than 600 canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. Together they span the country from coast to coast to coast and represent many of the major watercraft traditions of Canada. In 2013, the Senate declared The Canadian Canoe Museum and its collection a cultural asset of national significance.

The Museum’s artifacts range from the great dugouts of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest to the singular bark canoes of the Beothuk of Newfoundland; from the skin-on-frame kayaks of northern peoples from Baffin Island in the east to the Mackenzie River Delta in the northwest to the all-wood and canvas-covered craft manufactured by companies with names like Herald, Peterborough, Chestnut, Lakefield and Canadian. Over the years, paddled watercraft from as far away as Samoa and Kenya have helped the Museum expand its reach and scope to include international examples.

The Canadian Canoe Museum is a private, not-for-profit organization with charitable status (our Charitable Registration Number is 13378 1039 RR0001).

A conceptual render of the Lang Lakefront Campus, looking west. Visitors walk along the Trans Canada Trail, boardwalk and docks along the shore of Little Lake, surrounded by trees.
A concept render of the new museum and canoe house from the waterfront.

Our New Building: A Design Inspired by the Canoe

The new museum’s architecture is inspired by craftsmanship, and the use of natural elements reflects a connection to the land and the artisanship of canoe building. Our new home for the collection is as innovative as the canoe itself!

An aerial concept render of the new museum along Ashburnham Drive, with Little Lake in the background.
An aerial concept render of the new museum along Ashburnham Drive, with Little Lake in the background.

Award-Winning Architects

Award-winning local architectural firm Unity Design Studio (formerly Lett Architects Inc.) assisted The Canadian Canoe Museum in realizing a creative vision for our waterfront home and campus.

Unity Design Studio is a full-service architectural design studio known across the province as a leader in innovative design and long-lasting client relationships. Unity has developed best-in-class expertise in serving the cultural and non-profit sectors in Ontario with designs built upon deep stakeholder engagement.

Unity Design Studio is the only B-Corp certified architecture firm in Canada. Certified B Corporations™ (B Corps™) are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

Purpose-Built Design

The Museum’s two-storey, 65,000-square-foot building is a purpose-built facility that houses the collection and activities, helping to preserve history through the display, restoration, and appreciation of the canoe.

Our five-acre site provides stunning west-facing views of Little Lake, a connection to the Trans Canada Trail and is surrounded by public parks. It will become a vibrant community space for activities and the Museum’s canoeing and outdoor programs and events.

The new museum also features:

  • An integrated Collection Hall that allows for the display of 100 per cent of the Museum’s watercraft in a Class “A” Museum Environmental Control environment, an artifact conservation standard.
  • A 20,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall featuring a brand-new suite of exhibits.
  • A Gathering Space for events, weddings, and educational programs featuring a sweeping view of the lake.
  • An authentic Artisan Studio and Canoe-Building Studio to facilitate hands-on learning for youth and adults alike.
  • An accessible Library and Research Room with Class “A” Museum Environmental Control standards archival storage.
  • A Cafe with a fireplace and adjacent Lakefront Terrace.
  • A Canoe House and floating docks to accommodate on-water and outdoor education programming.
  • Trilingual wayfinding and exhibit signage.

Class “A” Controlled Museum Environment

The new museum has been carefully developed through consultation with the Canadian Conservation Institute and national experts to meet ASHRAE Museums, Galleries and Archives Chapter Class “A” Environmental Standards that minimize the risk or degradation of the precious artifacts in its care and to ensure their well-being for generations to come.

CCM Logo White

The Canadian Canoe Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are situated on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and the traditional territory covered by the Williams Treaties First Nations. The Canadian Canoe Museum also recognizes the contributions of Indigenous Peoples including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, in shaping this community and country as a whole.

As an organization that stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks & paddled watercraft, we will honour and share the cultural histories and stories within the collection in all that we do.

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2077 Ashburnham Dr
Peterborough, ON
K9L 1P8

Phone: 705-748-9153

Email: [email protected]


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Supported in part by:

Canadian Government logo
Weston Family Foundation logo
City of Peterborough logo
Peterborough County logo
Ontario Government logo