PETERBOROUGH, Thursday, June 1, 2023 – The Canadian Canoe Museum (CCM), home to the world’s largest and most significant collection of paddled watercraft, is embarking on an extraordinary journey as it prepares to relocate its entire collection from its current landlocked location to a new waterfront campus across the city.

To build excitement for its reopening and invite public support for this historic move, the CCM has launched a new fundraising campaign, Move the Collection: The Final Portage. The campaign is led by avid paddling enthusiasts and local community leaders Mike Judson and Neil Morton. As a symbolic gesture of the forthcoming move of the entire collection, the two will portage a symbolic canoe throughout Peterborough, from the current museum to its new 65,000-square-foot home, for the campaign’s duration, which will release videos at different milestones.

One man portaging a red canoe and another holding two paddles.
Neil Morton and Mike Judson portaging on Hunter Street. | Photo: Courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum

It is rare for a museum to build a new facility and move its entire collection to a new location, for it is a significant undertaking. Declared a cultural asset of national significance by the Senate in 2013, the CCM’s collection consists of more than 600 canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft (ranging up to 53 feet long and weighing up to 1,500 pounds), hundreds of small artifacts, and a library and archive—making the move of this national asset a truly historical and remarkable accomplishment. McWilliams Moving and Storage has partnered with the CCM as its Official Mover of the collection.

The CCM has spent more than two years carefully preparing the collection for its upcoming relocation, diligently cleaning and packing each artifact to ensure the utmost care during the move. The Museum has been temporarily closed since September 2022 to allow staff to remove artifacts on exhibit for the past two decades. When the new museum opens, it will also feature new exhibits, promising an enhanced and immersive visitor experience, including canoes and kayaks that have never been on public display.

“Moving a collection of this size and scale in the span of months is no small feat for our team and supporters,” explains Carolyn Hyslop, executive director of the CCM. “This move represents a pivotal moment in our museum’s history. By relocating to the waterfront, we will not only enhance the accessibility and visibility of this extraordinary collection but also create a transformative experience for our visitors. We are inviting donors and sponsors to be a part of this monumental move and help us bring the legacy of paddled watercraft to a wider audience.”

As part of The Final Portage campaign, the CCM is releasing a series of videos and behind-the-scenes content this summer and fall featuring Mike Judson and Neil Morton portaging an iconic red canvas canoe past recognizable landmarks in Peterborough. This will allow the public to follow the fundraising campaign’s progress while building excitement for the Museum’s reopening, anticipated this fall. To view the first video, visit

“Canoeing is one of my great passions in life, and seeing this national treasure move to the water’s edge in this community I adore is a dream,” says Neil Morton, one of the campaign’s lead portagers. “It’s fantastic to be a part of The Final Portage campaign and this historic moment with my fellow lead portager Mike Judson as we help carry this to the finish line.”

Two men standing beside a yellow canoe on a stand.
Neil Morton and Mike Judson next to the canoe featured in Gordon Lightfoot’s song. | Photo: Courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum

Surrounded by public parks, the Museum’s new home is located on a five-acre site at 2077 Ashburnham Drive that provides stunning west-facing views of Little Lake and a connection to the Trans Canada Trail along the water’s edge in Peterborough. The purpose-built facility on the water, with an array of indoor and outdoor spaces, will allow the Museum to deliver on its mission in inspiring new ways. It will become a vibrant community space for outdoor activities, including the Museum’s canoeing and outdoor programs and events.

“Supporting initiatives like the Museum’s historic move is an investment in preserving our shared heritage and cultural legacy. By contributing to this endeavor, we actively steward invaluable artifacts and ensure their accessibility to future generations,” shares Hyslop. “Institutions like ours serve as gateways to knowledge, inspiration, and understanding, and it is through your support that we enable the continued celebration and exploration of our collective history. Together, we can make a lasting impact and shape a vibrant cultural landscape for years to come.”

McWilliams Moving and Storage has joined The Final Portage campaign as the lead sponsor and Official Mover of the collection to ensure each piece is moved safely and with care. Their extensive experience and commitment to excellence make them the ideal partner for this significant endeavor.

Man portaging a red canoe
Portaging through downtown Peterborough | Photo: Courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum

“McWilliams Moving and Storage has been part of the CCM family since its inception with the first portage of museum artifacts from Dorset, Ontario to Peterborough over two decades ago. We are honored to continue this tradition as the Official Movers of the CCM and complete the final portage to a new architectural and cultural landmark in the city of Peterborough,” says Dan McWilliams, president of McWilliams Moving & Storage. “Having the opportunity to pack and transport these pieces of Canadian heritage allows us to be part of the journey and story of this national icon in our great city.”

The CCM invites donors and sponsors to join them in preserving history and shaping the future by supporting the Move the Collection campaign. Contributions will play a vital role in ensuring the safe and successful relocation of the world’s largest and most significant collection of paddled watercraft. Those joining as donors or sponsors of moving an artifact have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on our nation’s cultural heritage.

“The McWilliams team’s dedication to preserving the integrity of each artifact aligns perfectly with our mission to steward and showcase the rich history of paddled watercraft. We are incredibly grateful for their support and expertise throughout this process,” notes Hyslop. “We are excited to see other sponsors and donors support the move similarly.”

Join the CCM in inspiring Canada by canoe, and support the collection in making its final portage to its new home at the water’s edge! To donate, visit Businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact Rose Terry, philanthropy associate, at [email protected].


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