The Walrus

Learning on Land and Water

How the Canadian Canoe Museum’s education programs take teaching to another level


As education manager at The Canadian Canoe Museum, Karen Taylor encourages kids to discover their own connection­s to the artifacts in the museum’s collection. She’s also committed to supporting school curricula through the stories behind each craft on display. “We can explore so much through the canoe: art, science, social studies, geography, and, of course, First Nation, Métis and Inuit perspectiv­es,” she says. The education programs at the ccm are as diverse as its collection, from hands-on exploratio­ns of the galleries to building kayaks and carving paddles. Last year, the ccm began offering virtual field trips, using Skype to connect to classes across North America and beyond. “Live video calls from our education staff give students an interactiv­e experience of the museum in their classrooms,” says Taylor. In its first year, the virtual program reached 1,600 students, the demand underscori­ng the relevance of the museum’s collection as a source of learning and discovery. “Anywhere you have people and waterways there’s a captivatin­g history of paddled watercraft, whether we’re connecting with a class in Florida, near where ancient dugouts were recently unearthed, or with kids in a Manitoba town that was once a fur-trading post,” notes Taylor. There are also plenty of opportunit­ies to get kids on the water, including voyageur canoe expedition­s — what better way to learn about the fur trade than paddling a 36-foot replica from that period of history? “Our experienti­al, discovery-oriented approach allows students to shine,” says Taylor. “The museum offers a unique connection between its collection and an active, relevant, and challengin­g experience for children in a natural environmen­t.”

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