Queen’s alumni make ‘transformative’ gift to Canadian Canoe Museum

Jeremy Ward (Curator), Rodger Wright (Fundraising Cabinet volunteer), Carolyn Hyslop (Executive Director), Stu Lang (donor), Helen Batten (Landscape Architect, Basterfield & Associates Ltd.) and David Hadden (Fundraising Cabinet volunteer) during a visit to the CCM’s future home under construction at 2077 Ashburnham Drive in Peterborough. Photo by The Canadian Canoe Museum.

Stuart (Stu) and Kim Lang are again displaying their philanthropic side by making a “transformative gift” of $1,775,000, this time to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough.

The generous gift from the Queen’s University alumni will support the creation of a “vibrant, community-oriented waterfront campus” along the shores of the Museum’s future home at 2077 Ashburnham Drive, according to a release from the Canadian Canoe Museum (CCM).

The Lakefront Campus and Gathering Circle will offer visitors the chance to learn and build connections with the land, water, and community through immersive, authentic outdoor experiences that will create a new generation of paddlers, the museum noted.

According to the release, the museum’s future home features a beautiful 5.3-acre Lakefront Campus that will extend and enhance the museum experience, offering visitors a variety of outdoor activities both on and off the water. The 1,200 feet of shoreline, docks, boardwalk, restored and naturalized spaces, and wetland will act as a multi-purpose outdoor classroom for learners of all ages and be an active community space.

“We are incredibly grateful and fortunate for the passion, vision, and generosity of the Langs. Stu has taken great pride in helping craft an active waterfront that can complement the Museum, with many of the ideas for the Lakefront Campus coming from Stu himself. This gift, confirmed in the fall of 2022, has grown to the transformative gift it is today because of the Langs’ commitment to excellence and elevating the CCM to a national level,” shared Carolyn Hyslop, executive director of the museum.

In 2021, the pair provided the lead gift donation toward the redevelopment of Richardson Stadium. Stu Lang is a former Canadian Football League (CFL) player who also played on the Queen’s Gaels football team while an undergraduate at the University. The Langs have donated more than $70 million to Queen’s University and the University of Guelph, supporting student-athletes and the general student populations. The University of Guelph’s S. Lang School of Business and Economics was named after Stu’s father following a $21-million gift, the largest ever in the school’s history. They have also contributed to the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), the Guelph Humane Society, and Guelph General Hospital.

Inspired by Canadian canoe routes and water’s impact on the landscape, the Gathering Circle will feature natural elements, emphasizing the relationship between land and water, the museum explained. A water infiltration garden, wood slat benches, and a small amphitheatre surrounded by large granite boulders and white pine trees will offer visitors a space for reflection and education before or after their adventures.

According to the release, the redevelopment of the waterfront will also include an accessible, year-round boardwalk connecting the CCM to the Trans Canada Trail and the shoreline. The CCM said that there will be many opportunities to get out on the water with a walk-in canoe launch, two expansive seasonal canoe docks, and an adaptive canoe and kayak launch station. The docks and Canoe House will allow the CCM to host voyageur canoe tours, adult and youth paddling programs, certification courses, regattas, and canoe and kayak rentals for the public.

The future home of The Canadian Canoe Museum, set to open later this summer or early fall, will invite visitors to walk in the front door of the Museum and paddle out the back with an array of outdoor programming on its new Lakefront Campus. Rendering by Lett Architects Inc, courtesy of The Canadian Canoe Museum.

The Lakefront Campus is an entirely new offering for the CCM, one where visitors can take their newly acquired skills and understandings outside and put them into practice immediately, creating a fully integrated visitor experience. Visitors can go from learning about the canoe to stepping out of the Museum and, within only a minute’s walk, enjoy paddling around Little Lake.

“The Lakefront Campus will make our museum come alive! Participants in a paddle carving or canoe restoration workshop will experience the excitement of testing their freshly honed skills on the water. Schoolchildren and campers will get their hands dirty while exploring the biodiversity of the wetland or learning to build a campfire. Seating and signage throughout the site will encourage visitors and trail users to take in the expansive views of Little Lake before or after visiting the galleries. And the docks, canoe racks and a connection to the Trans Canada Trail will encourage community connectivity and active, accessible transportation,” described Hyslop.

The Langs also have a passion for camping and canoe tripping, having attended The Taylor Statten Camps in Algonquin Park. At these camps, they both developed a life-long passion and interest in canoeing, the outdoors, and educating youth about Canadian history, according to the release.

“The Canadian Canoe Museum’s world-class collection deserves an outstanding home. A fully realized Lakefront Campus and Gathering Circle are essential. They will showcase the canoe’s incredible history and cultural significance and connect people to the land and water in a way that only hands-on experiences can,” said Stu Lang. “The new museum will be a place where people can come together, learn by doing, and be inspired by the stories and traditions of the canoe. It’s an investment in our past, present, and future, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The museum said that the Langs join a generous group of donors and funders across the country contributing to the Inspiring Canada by Canoe campaign, which has raised 95 per cent of the $40 million cost for the project.

“We are so grateful to Stu and Kim Lang for their transformational donation that has led to the creation of the Lakefront Campus and Gathering Circle. The CCM and community will feel the impact of this donation for years to come,” Hyslop expressed.

The new museum is made possible, in part, by the CCM’s lead donor and government partners, including the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Weston Family Foundation, the City of Peterborough, Peterborough County, and the Province of Ontario.

The new museum and waterfront campus are currently under construction, with an anticipated grand opening in late summer or early fall. For more information or to sign-up for updates, visit the CCM’s website: www.canoemuseum.ca.

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