How would you like to see the planet’s biggest birchbark canoe, a buckskin jacket owned by Pierre Trudeau, or thousands of other heritage canoe artifacts? The place to be is the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. It’s the home of the world’s largest collection of historic canoes, kayaks, and related artifacts.

But before you head to Peterborough, check to see if the museum is still open. The museum, which has 500 canoes and kayaks, as well as popular interactive exhibits and activities, opened in the late 1990s. Until last summer, attendance steadily increased, reaching 40,000 visitors two years ago. But the rough economy has taken its toll. Last year the number of visitors dropped dramatically. On October 17, the museum was forced to shut its doors and lay off nearly all paid staff. Then, on October 22, banks temporarily bailed out the museum with emergency loans to keep it afloat and preserve the collection until the museum’s board of directors can develop a new financial plan.

For updates, check the museum’s Web site at, or call the Peterborough Tourist Bureau at (705) 742-2201.