You can see a canoe once owned by famous Canadian wildlife artist and naturalist Robert Bateman in a new exhibit at The Canadian Canoe Museum (910 Monaghan Rd., Peterborough) opening on Wednesday (June 13).
“Just Add Water: Little Boats with Big Stories” explores the scope of the museum’s collection, featuring artefacts from the museum’s extensive collection that have never been exhibited before.
The museum houses more than 500 watercraft and thousands of small artefacts and books, 80 per cent of which are stored in a warehouse space at the museum and are not available to the public except through specially arranged guided tours.
When the museum relocates to its new facility, to be built beside the Peterborough Lift Lock, the complete collection will become available to the public.
“This exhibit highlights the breadth of the collection as it examines and explores an array of stories and traditions that inspire us today,” says curator Jeremy Ward. “This exhibit will give visitors a taste of one of the experiences that will be offered in the new museum.”
One of the watercraft on display in the new exhibit is a 12-foot canvas-covered canoe owned by Robert Batemen, who is renowned for his paintings of Canadian nature and wildlife.
“Some of the most important, formative influences on my life were the four summers (1947-51) working, mostly as a ‘chore boy’ in Algonquin Park,” according to the text by Bateman that accompanies the exhibit.
“These summers were at the Wildlife Research Station. After hours, I would follow in the footsteps, or paddle strokes so to speak, of my heroes Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. I would paddle to a picturesque spot and do a little oil painting.”
The museum acquired the canoe in 2016, and will be displaying it along with a print of Bateman’s painting “Rocky Point – October”, featuring the same canoe on the south shore of Lake Boshkung in Haliburton County. Bateman’s family owned a custom-built log home there since 1946, until the 88-year-old Bateman sold it in 2016.
Bateman’s canoe was built by May Minto, a legendary canoe builder from Minden. Bateman writes:
“When I had the chance to custom order a canoe from May Minto, one of Canada’s best canoe makers, I wanted a 12-footer which would be easy to transport but could carry 2 to 3 people in calm weather, so I could bring the family along. I mixed an olive drab colour to paint on it so that it would be easy to hide in the bushes.”
Other artefacts in the new exhibit include a Fijian outrigger canoe, more than 30 paddles from around the world, and a digital kiosk featuring several objects from the museum’s collection not on display.
As well as the exhibit, the museum will be offering a photo booth where you can climb under a suspended canoe and impress your family and friends with your “portaging prowess”. The museum is encouraging people who use the photo both to use the hashtag #justaddwater and to tag the museum @CndnCanoeMuseum when posting their photos on social media.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with a presentation beginning at 7 p.m. in The McLean Matthews Gallery in the museum’s foyer. All are invited and welcome to attend. There is no charge for this event.
For more information on The Canadian Canoe Museum, visit canoemuseum.ca.