Canadian Canoe Museum - Canoeing through Canada

Hudson Bay Blankets at the Peterborough Canoe Museum

There are only a handful of countries in which canoeing played such a big role as in Canada, the land of 10000 Lakes (if that's enough). The first Europeans came here because they sought a way through the land mass that blocked their way to the precious things they knew from Asia and were after. They only wanted to cross the North American continent as quickly as possible, and since there were no roads at the time, or at least they did not know them, they used the countless waterways, large and small, that led into and through the continent. Only on the way they realized that this country also offered things that interested the people in the countries of origin, especially the valuable fur of beavers. The canoe became the voyageurs' main means of transport, transporting their goods to all parts of the continent to exchange them for the furs the Indians supplied. (The fact that Canada itself also has tons of natural resources, you did not learn much later, as the transport with canoes played no major role.) Reason enough for the Canadians, this traditional means of transport even dedicated to a museum. It's located in the small town of Peterborough, east of Toronto, and we looked at it.


Welcome to the Canoe Museum
Welcome or Bienvenue at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline


Already on the façade, visitors in English and French are welcomed - fittingly, we find that the first European travelers were French voyageurs in search of a way to the west. They were soon followed by the English fur traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, who made in their big Lastkanus the colorful blankets to the west, which were so coveted among the Indians that they eventually even became a kind of currency in the Canadian fur trade. How packed the canoes were are shown in the museum. Not only were the popular blankets part of the load, they also included metal pans, supplies of flour, rum, and corn, and the coveted tiny glass beads with which Indian fur customers' customers decorated clothes, shoes, and tents over time. They loved the colorful colors and eventually even used patterns they found on tobacco cans or other canned food as a template for the patterns they embroidered on their leather clothing and shoes.


Were the voyageurs
Lastkanu of the French Voyageur © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline


In the Canadian Canoe Museum you not only get to know the canoes of Europeans, but also the Indians who use them to this day, for example, on the Canadian northwest coast. They are still made from the giant red cedar trunks, which are so heavily eroded that only a thin outer skin remains. With these canoes, they used to go out to the sea to hunt whales. Today it is used for fishing in the coastal waters and large rivers in the Canadian west or as a ceremonial canoe for longer trips.


Voyageurs' camp
Canoes were also used by voyageurs as protection on their journeys © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline


Peterborough is not without reason site of the Canadian Canoe Museum. In this place was the Peterborough Canoe Company, where until 1961 modern wooden canoes were made. Even Queen Elizabeth II is in possession of one of the canoes of the Peterborough Canoe Company, which presented her with the canoe as a wedding present. Several canoes of the royal family are exhibited in the museum, which are loaned to the museum. If necessary, the princes pick up their canoes in the museum, if they want to do a tour by canoe. The Peterborough Canoe Company lost its leading economic position in canoe manufacturing as fiberglass and aluminum simplified the mass production of canoes. The conversion to the production of wooden speedboats and sailboats could not stop the demise of the Peterborough Canoe Company, so they closed their doors forever 1961.


The Canadian Canoe Museum is still reminiscent of the great time of wooden canoes as they opened Canada on the waterways. A very worth seeing museum, as we find, especially for those who are interested in Canadian history.

Peterborough is not far away from Elmhirst Resortwhere you can try your hand at canoeing on Rice Lake, if you wish.

Source: own research on site with the kind assistance of Tourism Ontario

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Canadian Canoe Museum - Canoeing through Canada
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