Why a New Museum?

The new facility will ensure that a fundamental part of Canadian heritage is not lost. The museum has a national role to play but is limited by its lack of suitable space and its inland location. The new museum and all that it encompasses and enables, is foundational to the realization of a strong, sustainable national organization. The need for a new museum is rooted in three key areas:

Enhanced Artifact Care, Stewardship & Accessibility

The current location, in a building intended for factory use, presents unique challenges for a museum. Retrofitting the current facility to meet the needs of this nationally significant collection and the Museum’s programming requirements is not possible.

Organizational Sustainability & Growth

Without the opportunity to increase attendance, grow programs and diversify revenue, the long-term strength and permanence of the organization is compromised. Currently, less than 20% of the Museum’s collection is on display. The remainder is stored in a separate warehouse that is largely inaccessible to the public. Furthermore, the lack of a dedicated work area and accessible storage for the Museum’s archival collections discourages its use by researchers and the public

Programmatic Capacity

The Museum’s award-winning educational and public programming has reached capacity due to lack of space. The current inland location of the Museum restricts on-water programming and only allows for the display of 20 percent of the collection, limiting the overall visitor experience.

Our Commitments


We believe that a world-class collection and cultural asset of national significance deserves the best possible home to provide the care it requires and to foster and support these skills and traditions for generations to come.

We will:

  • Enhance care, stewardship and accessibility by housing 100% of the Museum’s collection in a facility that meets Class “A” Museum Environment Control standards. 
  • Facilitate access to the entire collection on-site. 
  • Create an accessible Knowledge & Research Centre consisting of Archives Storage, a Library & Research Room, and a recording area to preserve oral histories, allowing researchers and students to benefit from these collections. 
  • Offer dedicated spaces and opportunities for artisans and builders-in-residence to share hands-on learning with students of all ages – preserving skills and perpetuating traditions.


We believe we have a unique opportunity, with the canoe as our lens, to share Canadians’ stories, aspiring to include and welcome diverse voices and perspectives from across the country.

We will:

  • Honour the cultural histories and stories within our collection by engaging with and learning from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
  • Be guided by the Calls to Action from the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • Provide opportunities for all visitors to find their place at the museum, and to connect with the collection in their own unique way.
  • Ensure voices and languages from Indigenous communities are seen and heard through the Museum and exhibits (as part of the Indigenous Languages Program supported by TD Ready Commitment). 
  • Feature temporary and travelling exhibits that will broaden the visitor experience


We believe that the best way to learn is by doing – encouraging hands-on discovery for a deeper understanding.

We will:

  • Expand experiential learning opportunities in the Museum, outside the Museum, on the water and virtually. 
  • Provide dedicated spaces that encourage and facilitate hands-on learning. 
  • Inspire adventure, spiritual connection, personal reflection and discovery. 
  • Ensure the Museum is accessible and inclusive to all by meeting or exceeding the standards set by the Canadian Standard Association’s “Accessible Design for the Built Environment” and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. 
  • Create indoor and outdoor multipurpose gathering spaces to support community events, celebrations, event rentals and programs.

“In 2017, we celebrated our 20th anniversary and looked back upon two decades of growth and accomplishment. The museum, with its world-class collection, has come a long way. The new facility will take us to a whole new level and ensure a strong, sustainable future.”

John Ronson

Chair (2017-2020), Board of Directors, Canadian Canoe Museum

Enabling More

Increased Attendance

With a stunning lakefront location intersected by the Trans Canada Trail, community members and visitors alike will explore the Museum alongside one of Canada’s most spectacular waterways, the Trent-Severn. It is estimated that the Museum will welcome 87,000 visitors annually – more than three times the current visitorship.

Building Collaborative Relations

As sites of cultural and historical preservation, museums play an important role in shaping our collective understanding of our past. Before the Museum is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically expand our ability to share and present Indigenous voices, perspectives and languages. In the process of building a new home for this world-class collection, the Museum is committed to learning from and with Indigenous communities and responding to the Calls to Action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

At its essence, this is a strategic commitment to a values-based form of engagement with various communities. It encompasses re-thinking, re-inventing, and re-imagining concepts of equality and fairness, particularly with Indigenous Peoples. Over time, Collaborative Relations will permeate all the Museum’s decisions in exhibit design, programming, community relations, governance and organizational practices.

Whole New Visitor Experience

The exhibits will be immersive, dynamic and experiential, allowing the visitor to engage in multiple ways through a variety of mediums. The new facility will support public access to the Museum’s entire artifact collection. In addition, achieving Class “A” Museum Environment Control Standards will allow the Museum to collaborate with the international museum community. An evolving temporary exhibit will offer fresh experiences, attracting repeat visitors.

Educational Programming

The new museum’s location and spaces will dramatically change how educational programming is delivered, allowing an increased number of youth to learn, play and explore. The on-water location will allow for outdoor activities, adding relevance to classroom discussions and firsthand experiential opportunities. The Museum’s virtual outreach initiatives will take interactive programs across Canada and the world.

Artisan Programming

With dedicated, purpose-built spaces, the Museum will have the ability to offer a broader range of artisan programming and experiences, both indoors and outdoors.

Financial Strength & Permanence

Financial sustainability is a key driver for the Museum as evidenced by the ongoing revenue growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new museum allows for greater diversification of revenue sources to ensure that the organization can be sustainable and resilient to world events, such as pandemics.

Economic Impact

The Museum’s operations and redevelopment project will have a positive economic impact on the community of Peterborough and the surrounding regions by enhancing tourism recovery, creating jobs, volunteer opportunities, and increased tourism spend in the community. The project team’s commitment to local procurement will see up to 91% of services and goods procured in Ontario, and up to 45% in the Peterborough region, further encouraging the recovery of provincial and regional economies.

Environmental Considerations

The Museum is committed to minimizing its impact on the natural environment. Management of the new museum property will include a comprehensive plan to restore and rehabilitate the site by introducing a mix of diverse native plants and tree species to enhance its ecological function and bolster the existing woodlot. Through ongoing engagement with First Nations, plant species with cultural significance for Indigenous Peoples will be identified, and where possible, incorporated into the comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

A constructed wetland, rain garden and innovative stormwater features will provide on-site infiltration and control of runoff before it reaches Whitlaw Creek or Little Lake. The wetland area will also provide a significant wildlife habitat by introducing native water plants and amphibians to the site.


Be a part of history in-the-making