W. Garfield We­ston Foun­da­tion gives $7.5M to new ca­noe mu­seum

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KOVACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

The W. Garfield We­ston Foun­da­tion an­nounced Wed­nes­day it is do­nat­ing $7.5 mil­lion to­ward the project to build the Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum’s new fa­cil­ity at the wa­ter’s edge of the Trent Canal be­low the Peter­bor­ough Lift Lock.

It is the largest known pri­vate one-time gift to a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion in Peter­bor­ough city and county, said mu­seum chair­man John Ron­son.

The mu­seum, con­sid­ered the world’s largest col­lec­tion of ca­noes, kayaks and pad­dled wa­ter­craft, has been housed for the past 20 years in for­mer Out­board Marine build­ings on Mon­aghan Rd.

The col­lec­tion in­cludes ca­noes do­nated by singer Gor­don Light­foot, au­thor Far­ley Mowat’s “boat that wouldn’t float” from his youth and for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau’s iconic buck­skin jacket.

Now they are plan­ning to build a new, $65-mil­lion mu­seum de­signed by Heneghan Peng Ar­chi­tects from Dublin, Ire­land and Kearns Mancini Ar­chi­tects from Toronto.

Con­struc­tion is slated to be­gin early next year.

On Wed­nes­day, dig­ni­taries such as Hi­awatha First Na­tion Chief Laurie Carr, Curve Lake First Na­tion Chief Phyl­lis Wil­liams and Sta­tus of Women Min­is­ter Maryam Mon­sef were at the an­nounce­ment.

The W. Garfield We­ston Foun­da­tion, cre­ated in the 1950s, is sup­ported by the ex­tended We­ston fam­ily (which owns or con­trols sev­eral com­pa­nies in Canada, in­clud­ing Loblaws and Holt Ren­frew.)

The foun­da­tion has sup­ported the Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum since 1995, states a press re­lease – two years be­fore the mu­seum

opened.

Garfield Mitchell, di­rec­tor of the foun­da­tion, made the fund­ing an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day. He’s a cousin to Galen We­ston Jr., the ex­ec­u­tive CEO, chair­man and pres­i­dent of Loblaws.

In an in­ter­view, Mitchell said his fam­ily al­ways saw the im­por­tance of the ca­noe as a “uni­fy­ing sym­bol” through­out Cana­dian his­tory.

He also said the fam­ily had faith, more than 20 years ago, that with the right re­sources the col­lec­tion of ca­noes would grow into “some­thing phe­nom­e­nal”.

They were right, he said – the mu­seum has flour­ished.

“And now there’s go­ing to be some­thing even more phe­nom­e­nal, birthed out of this,” he said.

Ron­son said half the $65 mil­lion necessary to build the new fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to come from gov­ern­ment funds, while the rest will come from pri­vate donors.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment gave first: it of­fered $1.5 mil­lion in seed money to help with early ex­penses, with the po­ten­tial of up to $15 mil­lion more to come.

The On­tario gov­ern­ment then promised $9 mil­lion, the city $4 mil­lion and Peter­bor­ough County $500,000.

Mayor Daryl Ben­nett gave a key to the city to the foun­da­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Wed­nes­day.

The $7.5 mil­lion do­na­tion will serve as a “bea­con” to help in­spire oth­ers to do­nate to the project, he said.

That could in­clude the feds: Mon­sef said in an in­ter­view that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is still in dis­cus­sions with the mu­seum re­gard­ing fur­ther fund­ing.

Ron­son said gov­ern­ment sup­port has been “piv­otal” in re­ceiv­ing money from the foun­da­tion. That’s true, Mitchell said. “But we also love Peter­bor­ough,” he added. “And we feel this is a great way to sup­port the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough in a project that’s im­por­tant to them.”

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Di­rec­tor Garfield Mitchell an­nounces the W. Garfield We­ston Foun­da­tion is do­nat­ing $7.5 mil­lion to the new Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum.

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