Canadian Canoe Museum

The Canadian Canoe Museum boasts the largest collection of its kind in the world, dedicated to preserve and share the culture and history of the canoe. And the museum also features unique activities and hands-on galleries that make it enjoyable for the entire family.

Located in Peterborough, on Monaghan Road off of Lansdowne Street, the museum is a perfect addition to any itinerary.

For up-to-date information and details on the Canadian Canoe Museum, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.

An indoor canoe exhibit from the Canadian Canoe Museum. The room is filled with a number of different models of canoes accompanied by informaion boards.

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More about Canadian Canoe Museum

With over 600 canoes, kayaks, and other paddled watercraft, and over 1,000 related artifacts, the Canadian Canoe Museum’s collection is one of a kind. It grew out of Professor Kirk Wipper’s personal collection and was originally founded as the Kanawa Museum in 1957. The museum took on its new name in 1997 and has been presenting this unique take on Canada’s cultural heritage ever since.

The collection showcases watercraft of all shapes, sizes and material. These vessels represent many of the major Canadian watercraft traditions and, with them, the museum seeks to portray how the canoe is representative of Canadian character and spirit. Items in the collection hail from around the country, coast to coast.

The permanent exhibits share the history of the canoe, in particular, which can trace its roots back thousands of years. Canoes were originally created by Indigenous people, who used the watercraft to navigate lakes and rivers around the continent. Meanwhile, the temporary, seasonal exhibits focus on a variety of subject matter — as specific as one man’s record-setting canoe trip, or as broad as the history of recreational canoeing.

Highlights of the collection include dugout canoes from the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, skin-on-frame kayaks from Baffin Island and bark canoes from Newfoundland. The oldest canoe in the collection dates back to the 18th century and is made out of birch bark. Meanwhile, watercraft from Paraguay and the Amazon have added to the museum’s international reach. The museum also boasts the most famous canoe in Canada: Bill Mason’s 16-foot-long red Prospector.

With watercraft on display everywhere — even hanging from the ceiling — the museum inspires visitors to chart a course and set off down the river on an adventure. The addition of the sound of natural flowing water from the indoor waterfall completes the experience!

The museum also features interactive, hands-on exhibits and galleries, and offers visitors a chance to build their own birch bark canoe or plan a prospective expedition. Guests can also listen to creation stories and learn about the Indigenous history of the area in the museum’s traditional Mi’kmaq wigwam.

Additionally, the museum hosts a scavenger hunt, model canoe building, and puppet theatre. And for those hoping for a more immersive experience, the Canoe Museum also schedules workshops, paddling courses and canoe tours. Check their workshops webpage for the latest information and course listings.

Those who want to take a bit of canoeing culture home with them should visit the museum’s shop, which features a variety of books, décor, apparel, jewelry, artwork, and other watercraft-related gifts.

For the Canadian Canoe Museum’s current operating days and hours, check their website. Guests can become annual members or purchase day-passes, and parking at the museum is free.

Last updated: January 4, 2022

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