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

“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.”

Dr. Thomas D. Andrews and Dr. Ingrid Kritsch

Archaeologists and Anthropologists

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

Bob Baun

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

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

Bill Buxton

Paddler, Public Intellectual and Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

Hiawatha First Nation Chief Laurie Carr

First Nations Leader and Community Builder

“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)

“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’.”

Chuck Commanda

Bark Canoe Builder and Culturalist

“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.”

Matthew Coon Come

Cree Politician, Activist and Former National Chief Assembly of First Nations

Claude Cousineau

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

“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.”

Bob Gainey

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

“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

“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

“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

“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.”

Ted Johnson

Paddler, Philanthropist and Community Builder

“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.”

Philip Lee

Journalist and Professor

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

“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.”

Michael Peake

Photographer & Editor

“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

Valerie Pringle

TV Host, Journalist and Chair, The Great Trail

“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.”

Shelagh Rogers

Broadcast-Journalist, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Honorary Witness

“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!”

Andrew Stewart

Archaeologist and Board Member, McLean Foundation

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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.”


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