The W. Garfield Weston Foundation invests $7.5 million in The Canadian Canoe Museum’s new facility at the water’s edge

An historic $7.5M gift from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation for our new home at the water’s edge marks the largest known private one-time gift to a charity in the Peterborough area.  The Canadian Canoe Museum community is so grateful for this transformational gift to our capital campaign.

Watch the historic announcement.

As Garfield Mitchell, Director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, announced a $7.5 million investment in The Canadian Canoe Museum’s new facility at the water’s edge, he received a long, loud round of applause.

And, well-deserved it was: This announcement marks the largest known private one-time gift to a charitable organization in the City and County of Peterborough. The generous gift builds on the foundation’s 20-year legacy of leadership with the museum.

This lead private gift will support capital costs and educational program development for the new museum, to be built alongside the Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway – both National Historic Sites – in beautiful Peterborough, Ontario.

The audience of community members and supporters included The Honourable Maryam Monsef, MP for Peterborough-Kawartha and Mayor Daryl Bennett, who presented Mr. Mitchell, along with Geordie Dalglish, also a Director, with a key to the City to thank them for their one-of-a-kind contribution.

The Hon. Maryam Monsef MP, Peterborough-Kawartha; Geordie Dalglish, Director, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation; Ryan Willis, Store Manager Peterborough Real Canadian Superstore; Garfield Mitchell, Director, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation; Bill Morris, Chair, Capital Campaign, and Carolyn Hyslop, Executive Director, pose with the key to the City of Peterborough.

The event began with a welcome song performed by the Wshkiigomang Women’s Hand Drum Group, followed by traditional welcomes by Chief Phyllis Williams of Curve Lake First Nation, Chief Laurie Carr of Hiawatha First Nation, and Andy Dufrane, President of the Metis Nation of Ontario – Peterborough and District Wapiti Metis Council.

Chief Williams spoke passionately about how the canoe connects us to the water. “We respectfully acknowledge that these First Nations are the stewards of this land, and we must preserve and respect this land and water for the years to come, for generations to come,” she said. “I indulge you to make sure that yourselves and those that are using the waters are using it with much respect. Without water we wouldn’t be here today. It’s important that we recognize that. The very point of canoes, and this building, is needing that water – it was our first highway.”

Carolyn Hyslop, Executive Director, concluded the ceremony by stating that today was one of the most incredible days the museum had ever had.

“This is a day we will always remember.”

John Ronson, Chair of the museum’s Board of Directors added, “From the high-profile headquarters that is the new museum, we will be inspiring Canadians – by canoe. This investment will not only support the construction of the new museum, it will see our programming reach more people inside the museum, outside the museum, and virtually, around the world.”

The museum stewards the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft, and is currently housed in a 1960s-era former factory building. The new museum, which will make accessible all 600 watercraft, thousands of small artefacts and an archive, is an 83,400 square-foot facility designed by an award-winning team of heneghan peng architects (Dublin, Ireland) with Kearns Mancini Architects (Toronto, Canada). The museum has partnered with world-class exhibition design firm GSM Project to create one-of-a-kind visitor experiences. The museum project has received foundational financial support from municipal, provincial and federal governments, and construction is scheduled to begin early next year.

The Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the museum dating back to 1995, two years prior to its opening, and was instrumental in its founding. Named The Garfield Weston National Heritage Centre, the galleries were dedicated at an event attended by then Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Hilary Weston and Galen Weston in 1998.

Ms. Hyslop then invited the foundation representatives to carve the paddle at the shavehorse. “This paddle will be symbolic of our journey to the new museum. It will take the unique contributions of many — and with great dedication and determination, over time, it will take shape.”

Geordie Dalglish, foundation director, above, shaves the ceremonial paddle.

The construction of the new museum will be supported by a $65 million fund raising campaign.

Read the news release.

Read more about Museum on the Move.