Construction begins on new Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough

Donors, funders, partners, and more gather for Saturday celebration at new location on Johnson Property beside Little Lake

Speakers at The Canadian Canoe Museum's construction commencement event on October 16, 2021 in front of a 26-foot long birchbark canoe built by Métis elder Marcel Labelle: Chief Laurie Carr, Janet McCue, Chief Emily Whetung, Marcel Labelle, Minister Lisa MacLeod, MPP Dave Smith, Carolyn Hyslop, Victoria Grant, Jeremy Ward, Warden J. Murray Jones, and Councilor Andy Dufrane. (Photo: FusionRiver Photography courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum)
Speakers at The Canadian Canoe Museum's construction commencement event on October 16, 2021 in front of a 26-foot long birchbark canoe built by Métis elder Marcel Labelle: Chief Laurie Carr, Janet McCue, Chief Emily Whetung, Marcel Labelle, Minister Lisa MacLeod, MPP Dave Smith, Carolyn Hyslop, Victoria Grant, Jeremy Ward, Warden J. Murray Jones, and Councilor Andy Dufrane. (Photo: FusionRiver Photography courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum)

The Canadian Canoe Museum hosted a formal event on Saturday (October 16) to celebrate the beginning of construction of the new museum at the Johnson Property at 2077 Ashburnham Drive in Peterborough. The event, held at the property’s western point beside Little Lake, was attended by project donors, funders, partners, and more.

Speakers included Chief Laurie Carr of Hiawatha First Nation, hand drummer Janet McCue, Chief Emily Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation, Métis elder and canoe builder Marcel Labelle (whose 26-foot long birchbark canoe was displayed at the event), Ontario heritage minister Lisa MacLeod, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, museum executive director Carolyn Hyslop, museum board chair Victoria Grant, museum curator Jeremry Ward, Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones, and Métis Nation of Ontario regional councillor Andy Dufrane.

“We are excited to celebrate the beginning of construction of our new world-class canoe museum in the company of our project partners, donors, and funders, and with our community as a whole,” says museum board chair Victoria Grant of the Loon Clan Teme-Augama Anishnabai and a member of the Temagami First Nation, in a media release.

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“These watercraft, conceived and built over millennia by the Indigenous peoples of what is now Canada, were central to building relations between the First Peoples and those who arrived four hundred years ago from Europe, beginning our shared history,” Grant adds. “These beautiful and functional craft offer us a vehicle through which we can better understand and appreciate that history. That understanding is essential in producing the truth upon which reconciliation between the First Peoples and those who came later must be founded.”

The Canadian Canoe Museum, first established in Peterborough in 1997 based on a collection of the late Professor Kirk Wipper, is currently located at 910 Monaghan Road and contains the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks, and paddled watercraft.

The museum has raised just over 82 percent of the total cost of $40 million to construct its new facility, including contributions from all three levels of government as well as the Weston Family Foundation. The museum also intends to sell its Monaghan Road property to help fund the project.

A rendering of the atrium of the new Canadian Canoe Museum looking south. The curved façade provides ample daylight into the space, and the swooping veil element adds interest and dynamism to the public atrium. The museum features a large indoor/outdoor fireplace directly off the public café. (Rendering: Lett Architects Inc.)
A rendering of the atrium of the new Canadian Canoe Museum looking south. The curved façade provides ample daylight into the space, and the swooping veil element adds interest and dynamism to the public atrium. The museum features a large indoor/outdoor fireplace directly off the public café. (Rendering: Lett Architects Inc.)
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The museum is taking an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach to the design and building of the new museum. Unlike traditional design and construction delivery methods, IPD is a collaborative approach where all project stakeholders are brought on board at the very beginning of the project, sign a multi-party contract, and share the responsibility for the project — including the financial risk.

Along with Lett Architects Inc. of Peterborough as the architect and Chandos Construction Ltd. of Toronto as the general contractor, other project partners include LEA of Markham as structural engineer, Kelson Mechanical of Sharon as the mechanical trade partner, DG Biddle & Associates of Oshawa as mechanical and electrical engineer, Lancer Electric of Peterborough as electrical trade partner, and Engage Engineering of Peterborough as civil engineer.

The Johnson Property is located north of Beavermead Park and south of the Parks Canada-Trent Severn Waterway head offices.

Some members of the integrated project delivery team for the design and build of the new museum at The Canadian Canoe Museum's construction commencement event on October 16, 2021 in front of a 26-foot long birchbark canoe built by Métis elder Marcel Labelle: Helen Batten of Basterfield & Associates Inc., Tim Coldwell of Chandos, Michael Harrington of JHG Consultants, Michael Gallant of Lett Architects, Carolyn Hyslop, Bill Lett of Lett Architects, Victoria Grant, Jeremy Ward, and  Scott Hunt of Chandos.  (Photo: FusionRiver Photography courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum)
Some members of the integrated project delivery team for the design and build of the new museum at The Canadian Canoe Museum’s construction commencement event on October 16, 2021 in front of a 26-foot long birchbark canoe built by Métis elder Marcel Labelle: Helen Batten of Basterfield & Associates Inc., Tim Coldwell of Chandos, Michael Harrington of JHG Consultants, Michael Gallant of Lett Architects, Carolyn Hyslop, Bill Lett of Lett Architects, Victoria Grant, Jeremy Ward, and Scott Hunt of Chandos. (Photo: FusionRiver Photography courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum)

The new museum will be built on a flat portion of the property, away from the floodplain, on the open land along Ashburnham Drive so as to preserve the existing trail, shoreline, and natural waterfront.

The new facility will house the museum’s complete collection of canoes, kayaks, and watercraft in a building that meets Class A conservation standards. With its location on the water, the museum will be able to offer increased on-water and in-person programming. The new museum is scheduled open in 2023.

For more information about the new Canadian Canoe Museum, visit canoemuseum.ca/new-museum/.

VIDEO: Canadian Canoe Museum construction commencement ceremony