National Council

The museum’s National Council is a group of distinguished individuals who are passionate about the work of the organization – past, present and future. They believe in the importance of the canoe to Canada, and have lent their support and enthusiasm to the building of this new national museum.

A Message from Honourary National Council Chair, His Royal Highness,

Prince Andrew, Duke of York

I have been canoeing since I was at school in Lakefield, Ontario. The canoe is one of the things that makes Canada unique, and The Canadian Canoe Museum celebrates this fact. Today the museum is housed in 1960s factory buildings–these facilities are unsuitable for the collection. At its core, the new museum will ensure that a fundamental part of Canadian heritage is not lost. The new museum will see the canoe as a conduit to an extraordinary suite of experiences, as it shares Canadians’ stories. And, as the museum reaches out across the country and around the world, more people will have the opportunity, as I have, to see the unique portrait of Canada that has been composed through the canoe. I believe this is a project of immeasurable cultural value and national resonance. As Honourary Chair of the National Council, and Patron since 2007, I am privileged to work with a distinguished group of Canadians to support this important project.

Shelley Ambrose

Publisher, The Walrus and Executive Director, The Walrus Foundation – Ontario

“Before telegrams and faxes, before radio and television, before computers and telephones, before newspapers and magazines, there was the canoe…. the first real means of communication between people on this land now called Canada. The rivers and lakes were the ways, the canoe and the kayak the means. The history and culture of the canoe is our collective history and culture and The Canadian Canoe Museum is a place of science and wonder, containing not only the most comprehensive collection of canoes, but a fascinating and important history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and of centuries of communication and transportation. Through the extraordinary programs, exhibits, and activities offered at The Canadian Canoe Museum, the craft of building a canoe and the culture of canoes and of this country comes alive for young and old. A stunning building in a stunning location, it will be a draw for locals and tourists and will join institutions like The Museum of History and The Royal Ontario Museum on the MUST GO list.”

Thomas D. Andrews and Ingrid Kritsch

Archaeologists and Anthropologists – Northwest Territories

Working in collaborative heritage research with various Northwest Territories Dene groups over the last 40 years has clearly demonstrated the critical role that birch bark canoes, moose skin boats, and other traditional watercraft played in allowing families to traverse a storied cultural landscape safely, while using travel as a tool to socialize and educate their children in the ways of the land. For us, sharing our experience with The Canadian Canoe Museum is a wonderful way to honour and thank the many Dene elders that have kindly shared their knowledge and taught us over the years.

Stephen Augustine

Hereditary Chief, Sigenigtog District Mi’kmawey Mawiomi, Associate Vice President, Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College – Nova Scotia

Bob Baun

Former NHL Player, Businessman and Ontario Sports Hall of Fame Inductee – Ontario

What first drew me to the museum was Kirk Wipper, who was a dear friend. He was my type of man, an outdoorsman. And he knew that part of learning to live properly is to have that outdoor exposure in one’s life, and that in Canada there’s probably no better way to do that, than in a canoe. Kirk introduced me to his canoe collection, I saw the potential for mentoring youth but I also saw what a workhorse these amazing vehicles, built by our Native Peoples, were in building this country. I see the museum doing this with its youth programs—a carry-on of Kirk’s belief that building healthy attitudes in young people, helping them to enjoy life to the fullest, and helping them learn about the amazing history of this country, is the best way to create fully contributing adults.”

Rick and Priscilla Brooks-Hill

Community Builders and Philanthropists – Ontario

“Being in the canoe museum reminds me of early days at the family cottage on Stoney Lake. There were six of us on a small island with only a canoe and one small boat with a 7.5 hp Evinrude (probably made at Outboard Marine Corporation in Peterborough, where the museum is located now). It seemed somebody always had the small boat on the other side so most often the only way to get off the island was to paddle the canoe. Remembering that and the role of the canoe in shaping Canada, Priscilla and I have been delighted to support the work of the museum over the years, to be part of the Founder Circle of donors, and now to add our voices to the new National Council.”

Meredith Brown

Founding Ottawa Riverkeeper (retired), Biologist, Community Builder – Québec

“My curiosity and love of lakes and rivers has been deepened by my ability to explore by canoe. My love of canoeing is an integral part of my Canadian identity and has shaped me from an early age. I have witnessed the power and beauty of the canoe while paddling with my sisters every summer as we grew up, during my first job as a teenaged canoe instructor, throughout my career as a Riverkeeper and as a mother, introducing my children to the canoe before they could walk. It is an honour to serve on the National Council for The Canadian Canoe Museum. Like our rivers, the canoe connects Canadians and is a powerful means to bring people together and connect us to the water that sustains us.”

Bill Buxton

Paddler, Public Intellectual and Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research – Ontario

Barb Cameron

Paddler, Musher, Educator and former Director Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre – Northwest Territories

“Indigenous origins of the canoe have placed it at the top of the list as one of the most iconic symbols of our collective Canadian identity. As individuals, we all need to better understand and appreciate the many traditional Indigenous cultural contributions and influences that have shaped who we are as a Nation. Throughout my life, I have nurtured a deep love of the canoe that began in a close-knit family of outdoor enthusiasts. Canoeing is what brought me to the NWT over 35 years ago, after landing a summer job fresh out of university, with the City of Yellowknife to teach canoeing to locals. Some of my fondest memories include canoe journeys across thousands of kilometers along northern waterways. A highlight was one paddling trip with Indigenous youth from Yellowknife along the Nahanni River guided by cultural advisor, Gerald Antoine, currently Chief of the Liidlii Kue Dene First Nation in Fort Simpson. Through storytelling and spiritual guidance he shared invaluable perspectives on the landscape, Dene culture, language and history. Three decades of museum work at the Northern Heritage Centre work taught me the importance of building relationships with communities, learning to focus first on honouring people, their cultural practices, skills and technologies. In collaboration with the Council and others, I look forward to offering my input to the ongoing agenda of renewal at The Canadian Canoe Museum.”

Hiawatha First Nation Chief Laurie Carr

First Nations Leader and Community Builder – Ontario

“Prior to contact, and for many years, our peoples used the canoe to travel the waterways to move within the traditional territories for hunting, fishing, harvesting, and trade. Today, we still use the canoe for hunting, fishing harvesting and as a source of recreation. It is an honour for us to see that the canoe has now become a cultural mainstay with not only Indigenous peoples continuing to use it, but also non-Indigenous peoples using it as a source of recreation and sport.”

Wendy Cecil

Philanthropist and Former Chancellor, Victoria University (U of T) – Ontario

“Whether Canadian by birth or by choice, learning about the canoe – both its practicality and its magic, is the gift The Canadian Canoe Museum gives to Canadians and visitors. Choosing to support The Canadian Canoe Museum is as natural as gliding on the water in an exquisitely perfect vessel. I am a champion of The Canadian Canoe Museum, and a member of the National Council, because I believe that through the spirit of the canoe, the Museum is a ‘country-builder’.”

Robert Comeau

Student at Law, Qujaq Builder, Inuit Social and Cultural Historian – Nunavut

The opportunity to support The Canadian Canoe Museum through the National Council offers a means to highlight Inuit contributions to Canadian society through the qajait and umiait. The Museum is also a repository of thousands of years of knowledge so it is exciting to be a part of something this significant.”

Chuck Commanda

Bark Canoe Builder and Culturalist – Ontario

“When I built a bark canoe at the museum last year, it completed a circle started by my Grandfather William Commanda. The messages of his work and mine are the same: we all share responsibility for taking care of the natural world. Like my grandfather said, ‘It’s not an Indigenous thing any more. It’s a human thing, to share the responsibility for taking care of nature.’ This is why I am delighted to be affiliated with The Canadian Canoe Museum and to join the National Council. What is happening at the museum is not only about the preservation of the canoe and the history of the canoe, but about the preservation of nature and humanity as well. The Canadian Canoe Museum is using that idea to its advantage. No other museum I know about has taken that step, that role.”

Claude Cousineau

Professor of Recreation and Co-Founder, National Canoe Schools and Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association – Ontario

“Unlike a golf club or a hockey stick, the canoe, as a leisure toy, evokes sentiments of ‘esthetique’, arts, romance, history, nostalgia, exploration and wildness. It can also provide excitement as it moves through rapids or calmness, as it sits quietly on the shore of a lake. For whatever reason, in Canada, the canoe has become part of our DNA.

Professor Kirk Wipper, the founder of The Canadian Canoe Museum, realized the importance of collecting, protecting and displaying samples of this heritage. He succeeded in inspiring many of us to participate in this mission. I am fortunate and grateful to have played a modest but enriching role in this cultural adventure. Thanks for the opportunity Kirk! A new home for your Museum is coming soon.”

Norm Crerar

Paddler, Community Builder, Captain of winning Manitoba canoe in the Centennial Voyageur Pageant – British Columbia

 

“I grew up in Flin Flon, Manitoba and was exposed to canoeing at an early age via Boy Scouts and the Flin Flon Gold Rush Canoe Derby. My paddling partner Gib McEachern and I entered our first professional canoe race at the age of 16 and would go on to be a dominant team through the 1960s. Adding up our hours of practicing, racing, and now joining folks on re-enactments of trips on fur trade routes, we believe we have paddled in excess of 65,000 miles (105,000 Km). The Canadian Canoe Museum is vital to the education of Canadian youth. I look forward to helping with outreach, particularly linking small, local museums in northern Canada with the new and exciting museum and vice versa.”

Jessica Dunkin

Social Historian, Author, Director, On the Land Programs, NWT Recreation & Parks Association – Northwest Territories

“In an essay in the new book Symbols of Canada (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2018), Jessica writes: ‘The canoe is an object with a complicated past. It has long been, and continues to be, a physical and symbolic tool of settler colonialism. But it also remains a symbol and tool of Indigenous nationhood, resilience, and resurgence … For settler Canadians, attending to the past and present of canoe colonialism is an important part of decolonizing the canoe and nurturing respectful relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in this country, but it is only a part. To be truly transformative, education must be accompanied by action. For settler canoeists, this might begin by building relationships and cultivating ethical paddling practices. On whose territory do you wish to canoe? How does that nation understand respectful relations with the land and what are your obligations as a visitor? Is that nation fighting to protect their territory or gain access to their territory? How can you support them? Of course, these questions are just a beginning’.”

Bob Gainey

NHL Player, General Manager, Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee and Philanthropist – Ontario

“I believe preserving and displaying these many and diverse watercraft is important. It’s important because of the story they tell. It’s a story of mankind’s need to travel, need to find better, need for adventure … it’s an incredible story. Canada has many places suitable to house The Canadian Canoe Museum, but none better than Peterborough, Ontario, on the banks of the Trent-Severn Waterway. Join us in making this dream a reality.”

Victoria Grant

Teme-Augama Anishnabai Qway, Past Chair, Community Foundations of Canada – Ontario

“At this time in Canada, we are beginning a process for Truth and Reconciliation. Together, we need to learn, understand and acknowledge our shared history. We can’t do that without first knowing and understanding the impact of the canoe in Canada’s story, from those very early times when the first visitors came to our shores. The Canadian Canoe Museum provides us with an opportunity to learn, to feel, to smell, and to see the canoe in its diversity and endurance.”

Charlotte Gray

Author and Historian – Ontario

“Canoe routes criss-cross Canadian history; canoes have made possible our unique country. They symbolize survival and trade, exploration and adventure, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. As we struggle towards reconciliation between the different narratives of the past and for the future, the Canoe Museum can play a crucial role in bringing people together to marvel at the skill of canoe-builders who created vessels that are superbly adapted to this landscape. Canoes are extraordinary artefacts, reliable workhorses, and an emotional link for all of us with the outdoors.” 

Geoff Green

Community Builder and Founder, Students on Ice Foundation – Québec

“The Canadian Canoe Museum is a national and international treasure. A unique portal to our past, present and future, with a lifetime of inspiring and profound stories to share. Stories that remind us of our connections to each other and to Mother Earth. I am honoured and proud to serve as a member of the Museum’s National Council.”

Patrick Henry

Paddler, President and Founder, Canadian Canoe Foundation, Executive Director, NatureServe Canada – Québec

“Canoe tripping provides the most impactful education regarding Canada’s natural heritage and the critical importance of clean water and healthy ecosystems. Wilderness canoe tripping soothes the soul by simplifying your concerns to core requirements (i.e., food, shelter, water tight canoe). The bigger picture becomes clear.  I am honoured to serve on the Canadian Canoe Museum’s National Council.  The museum is doing an amazing job in promoting the past, present and future of the canoe, and in developing innovative programs to generate enthusiasm and understanding of canoeing and the canoe.”

Ed Hill

Paddler, Community Builder and Founder, Pulling Together – British Columbia

“I grew up in Peterborough. My father actually worked as a welder in the building that now houses the Canoe Museum when it was ‘Outboard Marine’. I joined the RCMP in 1968. Little did I know then that it would ultimately be my connection with canoes, in life altering fashion. My first real exposure to the big ocean-going canoes of the west coast was in 1997 when, as an RCMP member, I participated in the VisionQuest Canoe Journey. The value of that 1,300 kilometer journey, in terms of reconciliation with the Indigenous people of the west coast, moved me to create an annual canoe journey of reconciliation and healing called Pulling Together. My goal in participating in the Canadian Canoe Museum National Council is to help establish exposure to the ancient canoeing culture and the ingenious and unique canoes out here on the west coast of Canada. It has been experiencing resurgence of late, from a continuum of over 10,000 years.”

Ted Johnson

Paddler, Philanthropist and Community Builder – Québec

“If The Canadian Canoe Museum didn’t exist, we’d be working very hard right now to create it. How fortunate we are to have this iconic assemblage, and how important it is to preserve and enhance it, and share it with generations to come.”

Genesee Keevil

Journalist, Wilderness Guide, Musician – Yukon Territory

“The mediative movement of dipping and drawing a paddle through water, propelling a silent canoe, remains one of the most satisfying reminders of the beauty found in simplicity. In our fast-paced world, where people are increasingly becoming one with their technology, I can’t think of a more important time to be championing the clarity and un-plugged connection that canoeing offers.”

Philip Lee

Journalist and Professor – New Brunswick

“My workhorse canoe was built by Bill Miller, who lives in Nictau, New Brunswick, beside the Tobique River. It was constructed on a mould designed a century ago by Tobique guide Burt Moore, who wanted a wider canoe with low gunwales, that would be light and stable for poling his clients and large loads of gear up and down the river. He called his revolutionary design the Guide Special. Bill Miller’s grandfather acquired the Moore mould. My 22-foot Miller Guide Special floats like magic across shallow water, a perfect union of art and technology. You can discover Bill Miller’s work at The Canadian Canoe Museum, or on one of New Brunswick’s many fine rivers. On my best days, that’s where you’ll find me.”

Roy MacGregor

Paddler, Writer and Globe and Mail Columnist – Ontario

“No canoe, no nomadic First Nations. No canoe, no exploration by the Europeans. No canoe, no Canadian economy. No canoe, no settlement. Ottawa has a Museum of Nature, a Museum of Science and Technology and a Museum of History — Peterborough’s Canadian Canoe Museum will combine all three and offer even more.”

Scott MacGregor

Publisher and CEO, Rapid Media – Ontario

“While my children have literally grown up in canoes and kayaks and the health of the paddling industry is normal dinnertime conversation, it wasn’t until they visited The Canadian Canoe Museum did they realize the importance of the canoe in Canada’s history. Readers of our magazines, new to paddling, tell me the same. Understanding the history of the canoe and the country, adds a feeling of authenticity to our time on the water, no matter which river, lake or ocean we happen to be paddling.”

Peter Mansbridge

Broadcaster and Former Chancellor, Mount Allison University – Ontario

“The canoe is quintessentially Canadian and if you’re not convinced of that you haven’t travelled the world. Show anyone a canoe and their response is almost unanimously ‘Canada’! The canoe talks about our origins, it talks about our development and it talks about our continuing commitment to protecting the environment and honouring our past.”

Larry McDermott

Member Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, Commissioner of Ontario Human Rights Commission and Executive Director, Plenty Canada – Ontario

The canoe is a lightning rod for our shared history—Indigenous and non-Indigenous. In 1764, the year after the Proclamation of 1763, let’s remember that when 2500 representatives of First Nations throughout Turtle Island attended a gathering at Fort Niagara—some of whom took three months just to get there, and three months to get home of course—they got there by canoe. The canoe brought us together to build this country and set the relationship.  It’s critically important to understand that Indigenous cultures—and I use the plural because there were many different Indigenous cultures—built different canoes for different reasons. Canoes reflected their environments. They reflected their understandings, their epistemologies, their cultural foundations. The canoe illuminates the cultural strengths that built Canada. And that’s why a national museum dedicated to the canoe is critically important.”

Mark McLean

Paddler and Philanthropist – Ontario

“I have been following the museum since I first discovered the collection at Camp Kandalore 30 years ago. The canoe was used by the First Nations for millennia before the Europeans adopted it to explore and develop Canada as a nation. What could be more appropriate than the canoe as a symbol for a nation of rivers and lakes?”

Craig Oliver

Legendary Wilderness Paddler and Broadcaster – Ontario

“As the founder of the Arctic Circle and Rideau Canal Canoe Club I’ve seen a lot of this country by canoe over the last 60 years and know that The Canadian Canoe Museum is an essential part of preserving this heritage. I’m delighted to be a member of the new National Council and look forward to helping to see the museum’s ambitious plans realized.”

Jocelyn Palm

Director Glen Bernard Camp, President Near North Enviro-Education Centre – Ontario

Michael Peake

Photographer and Editor – Ontario

“The canoe was the vessel to Canada’s wilderness for me and countless others. With our group the Hide-Away Canoe Club we paddled numerous northern rivers over many years, following historic routes. I knew Kirk Wipper for years and am so happy to be a part of his dream by joining the National Council. Our HACC motto, from Alpine Club of Canada founder J. M. Thorington: “We were not pioneers ourselves, but we journeyed over old trails that were new to us and with hearts open. Who shall distinguish?”

Aaju Peter

Inuk Lawyer and Activist – Nunavut

Valerie Pringle

TV Host, Journalist and Chair, The Great Trail – Ontario

“Canadians have to love the canoe.  It is the vessel that opened this wild country; a marvel of engineering, practicality and beauty.  The sound of it is beautiful!  We owe it so much. The Canadian Canoe Museum honours its history, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, its contribution, its lore and its elegance.”

Michael Robinson

Anthropologist, Writer and Past CEO of the Bill Reid Foundation, the Glenbow Museum and the Arctic Institute of North America – British Columbia

“I support the National Council to support the museum and its mission from Skelhp, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. I live on the Salish Sea, fish for many family dinners, and acknowledge our family’s good luck to live near Tla’amin Nation treaty lands. Skelhp means, The place where the ancients dropped down from the heavens, and taught us to make canoe paddles out of Yew wood.”

Shelagh Rogers

Broadcast-Journalist, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Honorary Witness – British Columbia

“The Canadian Canoe Museum is a project of optimism. The canoe as even a concept implies moving ahead, pulling together. It suggests journeying, peace, play, reflection and wonder. The superb collection held by The Canadian Canoe Museum, unique in all the world, connects us to where we have come from and points to where we could go. It is vital that in this time of truth and reconciliation that we understand the true history of Canada. The canoe, in all its shapes and lengths, tailored by Indigenous peoples to specific waterways, shared with non-Indigenous people, is central to this understanding. The award-winning education programs, the excellent curation of the collection and the openness and generosity with which the knowledge and stories of the vessels are shared, all add up to an unparalleled experience for a Canoe Museum visitor. It’s great now, and I can’t wait for the ravishing new museum to open right where it should be, by the water. Oh, the places we’ll go!”

Candace Savage

Writer and Naturalist – Saskatchewan

“I will never master the J-stroke or perfect a scull or draw, but I love the silent glide of a canoe across still water, its silvered trace. Appropriate technology at its finest, the canoe can take us places we would never otherwise be able to enter: new territories, new understandings, new connections among peoples.”

Wally Schaber

Founder of Black Feather Wilderness Adventures, Co-founder of Trailhead, Paddler, Outfitter, Historian – Québec

“Canoes and canoeing have been my vocation and recreation since I first learned to paddle at Camp On Da Da Waks on Golden Lake in the 1960s. After being associated with The Canadian Canoe Museum off and on over the years, it is an honour and pleasure to join the National Council to help the museum achieve its short and long term goals over the next decade.”

Andrew Stewart

Archaeologist and Board Member, McLean Foundation – Ontario

“Canoeing has certainly been an important part of my life, from summer camp days onwards — a time-honoured way to get to know Canada in the summer and fall. As a schoolboy, fur-trade history sparked my imagination, as did Canada’s geography of rivers. I think supporting The Canadian Canoe Museum is critically important to serve the needs of its nationally significant collections and programming. In an age of post-truth, the museum provides a way to connect to Indigenous traditions and some of the real history of our water-coursed land.”

Jim & Katie Stewart

Sprint Paddler, Philanthropists – Ontario

“Our family has been involved in canoeing: racing, tripping and just fun leisure canoeing our whole lives. When my wife Katie and I made a new life for ourselves in Peterborough 11 years ago we naturally gravitated to The Canadian Canoe Museum which needed some support. This museum not only represents our family’s love for canoes and paddling, but it is a fun way to teach the next generations about the history of Canada. The exhibits tell a number of stories about our past and go to the core of what is means to be a Canadian. It is clearly a national treasure that deserves our continued support.”

Les Stroud

TV Personality, Filmmaker and Musician – Ontario

“Were it not for the canoe we would have a much different Canada and much of history would have to be re-written. Were it not for the canoe, my life, my career and my love of nature would have never been as potent and profound as they are now. I could not be more proud to be an ambassador for and to sit on, the National Council for The Canadian Canoe Museum. Their work is not only celebrating and preserving the story of a recreational watercraft; it is celebrating and preserving the story of Canada. It’s the story of an entire country with a personal connection to nature. A connection that began with a canoe.”

Adam van Koeverden

Olympic and World Champion Kayaker – Ontario

“I’m often heard plagiarizing someone wise when I say ‘there probably wouldn’t be canoes without Canada, and there wouldn’t be a CANADA without canoes’. As a kayaker, I feel really fortunate to have been able to use an Inuit invention to race for Canada over four Olympics and all the races in between, and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate and educate all things paddling than The Canadian Canoe Museum.”

Curve Lake First Nation Chief Phyllis Williams

First Nations Leader and Community Builder – Ontario

“The Canadian Canoe Museum is an incredible place to explore and appreciate the largest collection of canoes and kayaks. The museum is a reflection of the history of Canada and its people, a starting place to learn about the contributions and experiences of Indigenous peoples and the merging of nations and cultures in the early years. This place is unimaginable. One cannot adequately appreciate the collection until you visit; and then, the experience becomes contagious.”

Mindy Willet

Author, Educator, Paddler, Social Studies Curriculum Planner (GNWT) – Northwest Territories

“I was fortunate to grow up shaped by the white pines of Atikokan Ontario – the Canoe Capital of Canada. Atikokan means ‘place of caribou bones’ in Ojibwe and my childhood included canoe trips which greatly shaped my life ethos. I attended Trent University and was influenced by incredible professors, classmates and courses which included canoe trips where we were challenged to think critically about the role of the Canoe in Canadian context. While at Trent and in visits to Peterborough since I’ve had the opportunity to see the vast collection. The Canadian Canoe Museum has a unique role to play in creating a space, both physically and metaphorically, for all of us to think about the complexities around the canoe and the role museum collections in general play within our society. Currently I’m blessed to live on Yellowknive’s Dene land on the shore of Great Slave Lake and spend my winters dreaming about the next place to dip my paddle when the ice retreats.”  

John B. Zoe

Negotiator, Mentor, Paddler, Senior Advisor Tłįchǫ Ndek’àowo (Tłįchǫ Government) – Northwest Territories

“Our first real organized canoe trip happened in 1988 when we were meeting with Elders, talking about going on the land and maybe even having a gathering out somewhere in the bush. They said, ‘We’re living in times of conflict and we need something to have peace within ourselves and among each other so that we’re speaking the same language and we have the same goals. And one of the best ways to do that is to go back onto the land.’ From a speech by John B. Zoe called “Following the Trails of Our Ancestors: Re-grounding Tłįho knowledge on the land.”

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