Paddle power

A canoe can take you many places — and only some of them are on a map.

The Canadian Canoe Museum’s collection of 650-plus paddled watercraft helps visitors explore Canada’s culture, art, heritage and spirit, as well as find routes to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It’s a journey that’s about to become more meaningful, thanks to a $40 million campaign to build a new, 65,000 square-foot home on the shores of Little Lake in Peterborough, a mere four kilometres from the museum’s current cramped, landlocked location.

Support has come from all levels of government, foundations, businesses and individual donors. As part of its commitment to impact investing, HCF invited community foundations from across Canada to pool capital for a loan to the museum. HCF arranged two guarantors for the loan, removing much of the risk. Five foundations joined in, including the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough.

“One of the goals of our impact investing strategy is to grow the capacity of other community foundations to participate,” says Annette Aquin, HCF’s Executive Vice-President, Finance & Operations. “We take on the due diligence and legal co-ordination to make it easier for them to say yes, particularly smaller foundations.”

The museum’s Executive Director, Carolyn Hyslop, says HCF’s involvement was key to bringing the community foundations together to support the project. “We needed someone on the inside to lead the process,” she says. “HCF’s experience with how to strategize, reach out and communicate — it’s magic.”

The loan provided much-needed capital and became a vote of confidence that helped the museum attract other investors.

The experience, which Carolyn describes as robust and thorough, felt different from traditional financing. “It felt good because it wasn’t just about our project proposal,” she says. “It was also about our intentions.”

Excerpt from 2022 Annual Report