Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum Kayak Tour

Wednesday, 18 November 2009
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Totom Pole in StairwellOur family was given a family pass to the Royal Ontario Museum. It’s a super cool place to wander around looking at the rare artifacts, dinosaurs, and stuffed mammoths. They even have a very nice bat cave that’s all dark and spooky. The only problem with the came is that it is always filled with screaming school kids on field trips. I’m so old.

Since the ROM is just down the street from my work, I often use the family pass to wander around over lunch. I always feel like Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair except that I’m not planning a major art heist (and I’m not rich).

Today I decided to take a look again at the First Peoples exhibit. In there, they have a nice little collection of canoes and kayaks. The photos below were taken by my iPhone but they will do the trick.





Skin Kayak
Skin Kayak
Same skin boat from another angle.
Same skin boat from another angle.
Kayak Frame built in 1991 in Arctic Bay.
Kayak Frame built in 1991 in Arctic Bay.



Birchbark Canoe being restored.
Birchbark Canoe being restored.
Their collection of Birchbark canoes is very nice. They have a large Voyageur canoe that was built in the mid 1970’s by César Newashish who was also appeared in the famous National Film Board (NFB) documentary, César's Bark Canoe.

As you can see in the photo part of the canoe exhibit is closed off. Behind the fancy yellow gate I met Jeremy Ward who is the curator at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. Jeremy was at the ROM today helping with an ongoing restoration of the Voyageur canoe.

Over the next week Jeremy will be taking the stern apart to repair a section of birchbark that cracked several years ago. Nobody really knows how it got damaged but some speculate it most likely hurt when the canoe was moved from one floor to another via a grand spiral staircase. A true mystery of the ages!

Sorry, I didn’t get any good photos of the canoe, we got to talking and before I knew it, my lunch hour was over and had to scurry back to work.

For your viewing pleasure, below is the NFB production of César's Bark Canoe. Even on the original, there is no narration; just César Newashish himself demonstrating the techniques of birchbark canoe building.





David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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