It was too easy, really.
The staff at the Canadian Canoe Museum just handed Andy and I the keys to the front door and we had the place to ourselves for the night. What were they thinking?
The idea came about when I was visiting the museum to interview a group of Brownies who were taking part in the award-winning educational stay-over. I was jealous the girls got to sleep in a wigwam and dress as voyageurs, all amongst the museum’s incredible paddling exhibits. In fact, I was so envious that I asked the staff if I could do the same—share a night camping out with my best canoe buddy, Andy Baxter.
They agreed—with a few rules given to us, of course. No attempts at portaging any of the hundreds of ancient—and brittle—canoes and kayaks; no campfires inside the building; and absolutely no attempts to wear Trudeau’s buckskin jacket. We arrived with our sleeping bags, pillows, snacks and a wee dram of spirits to fight off the chill of the air-conditioner.
Our stay was nothing like the Night at the Museum films. No strange curse brought the museum’s inhabitants to life. We didn’t converse with a miniature Bill Mason or Eric Morse. The exhibits themselves, however, did seem to come to life. I’ve walked through the Canadian Canoe Museum several times since its grand opening in 1997. It wasn’t until I slept over, comforted by a mock campfire lit with an orange light bulb, that I felt so connected to how the canoe truly signifies the people of Canada.
Check out the video Andy and shot during our sleepover—and consider taking a youth group there for the night (or a few of your best canoe buddies).