Les Groombridge and Dr. Don Curtis opening the Canadian Canoe Museum on Monaghan Rd. in 1997.
The Canadian Canoe Museum marks the passing of Dr. Donald Dean Curtis, age 89, who was more integrated into the early days of the museum than almost anyone might imagine.
Before studying medicine at the University of Toronto, he was a student of museum founder Kirk Wipper in U of T’s School of Physical Education. But before that, as the grandson of canoe maker Walter Dean, creator of the world-famous Sunnyside Cruiser canoe, Don developed his own love of the canoe (and paddling chops) during summers on the Toronto waterfront.
And then, after establishing his medical practise in Peterborough, Dr. Curtis, assumed the duties of industrial physician at the Outboard Marine Corporation factory at 910 Monaghan Road. Later, in the early 1990s, with OMC chair, Les Groombridge, working with the group from Trent who actually negotiated to bring the Kanawa canoe collection to Peterborough, Don was involved in the sale, for $1 of the OMC premises to the fledgling Canadian Canoe Museum.
Through his long association with the museum, Don Curtis served as board chair (twice, once at the very beginning and again after the museum was restructured in the early 2000s) and was active in all aspects of museum operations from care and maintenance of the site itself, to early accession and appraisal of craft, participation in volunteer committees, raising of funds, hiring of staff and was probably the person in the organization most familiar with the Smartscan device, designed by yacht designer Steve Killing, that captured the lines of many, many craft in the collection.
Don Curtis had a profound influence on the creation, growth and evolution of the Canadian Canoe Museum. We send condolences to his family and friends as his long and productive life has come to an end.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. You can learn more about his community contributions here: https://www.thestar.com/pe/news/peterborough-region/2021/10/19/former-peterborough-lakers-part-owner-dr-don-curtis-remembered-as-a-visionary.html?rf