The Year in Review: Achievements
The corporation aligns its plans, activities, performance goals, expenditures and reporting with the mandate established by Parliament and the Strategic Directions set by the Board of Trustees. The five Strategic Directions, approved in 2014, are essential in fulfilling the corporation’s national mandate, while also promoting a high standard of museological excellence.
- Establish the Museum as a hub of Canadian history for Canada and the world.
- Connect Canadians to their history and reflect this personal connection in all aspects of the Museum experience.
- Develop a collection that better reflects Canada’s history and distinctiveness.
- Engage dynamic partnerships and networks across Canada and internationally for mutual benefit.
- Ensure the Museum has the financial resources to carry out its mandate.
Results by performance measurement indicator
|▲ Results within 10% of target or surpassing target|
|● Results within 11–24% of target|
|▼ Results 25% or more off target|
- Complete and launch the new Canadian History Hall on July 1, 2017 as a Canada 150 legacy project.
- Present exhibitions and public programs to commemorate the First World War Centenary.
- Establish successful programming of the exhibition space for Library and Archives Canada materials.
Summary of Performance
The past year has been outstanding with regard to establishing the Museum as a hub of Canadian history. The new Canadian History Hall, which opened on July 1, 2017 — the 150th anniversary of Confederation — has catapulted Canada’s story into the international spotlight.
As the First World War Centenary draws to a close, the presentation of a war art exhibition in Arras, France, for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, reminded Europeans of the courage of ordinary Canadians in extraordinary times. In addition, numerous exhibitions presented with the support of the Virtual Museum of Canada shared regional stories large and small with people around the world.
|Paid attendance (in ‘000s)|
The Museums continued to attract a significant number of visitors in 2017–18, despite the closure of the former Canada Hall. The Museums welcomed a total of 803,000 visitors to the Museums, compared to its target of 720,000. This success can be attributed to the opening of the Canadian History Hall, strong leadership and mitigation strategies such as cross-promotion between the Museums, and a strong exhibition lineup, including Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition and Vimy – Beyond the Battle. When compared to 2016–17 results, the Museums surpassed every quarterly result. Overall, the Museums surpassed 2016–17 by an average of approximately 13%.
|On-site attendance (in ‘000s)|
The Museums had another exceptional year, attracting 1,997,000 visitors to their grounds, compared to the target of 1,700,000. The Museums were successful due to strong leadership, programming, group attendance and rentals, drawing people to the grounds for annual activities such as group tours, and for events such as Bluesfest and Gatineau’s Beerfest. The Museums always attract a high number of visitors on Canada Day, but 2017–18 was a unique year. Not only were the Museums part of the celebrations for Canada 150, but the Museum opened its long-awaited signature exhibition, the Canadian History Hall, unveiled by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and the President and CEO. As with paid attendance, the Museums surpassed the quarterly results of 2016–17. On average, the Museums surpassed the 2016–17 results by approximately 15%.
If You Build It, They Will Come – Presenting Meaningful and Crowd-Pleasing Exhibitions
This has been a record year in attendances for both Museums, reaching the two-million mark for the first time in its history. As indicated by this year’s attendance figures, exhibitions at both the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum were highly popular. Within its first nine months, the Canadian History Hall alone had welcomed 347,633 visitors, exceeding all expectations.
Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition — developed in association with the National Maritime Museum in England and Parks Canada, in collaboration with the Inuit Heritage Trust and the Government of Nunavut — was a great success during its presentation at the Maritime Museum in 2017, and a runaway hit during its first month at the Canadian Museum of History. Not only was attendance high, but the attention given to the Franklin mystery, both in Europe and here at home, considerably raised the Museum’s international profile.
The Canadian experience was also profiled in popular slice-of-life exhibitions that included Canada: Day 1, exploring the experiences of newcomers to Canada over the past 150 years.
Similarly, Snapshots of Canada presented iconic Canadian people, places and events to visitors from around the world, while two exhibitions in the new Treasures from Library and Archives Canada Gallery explored Canada and its people at the time of Confederation, as well as Canadian history through the eyes of children. In addition, Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings From 1964 showcased Inuit drawings from 1964, introducing international visitors to one of this country’s most vibrant forms of Indigenous art.
|Canadian Museum of History|
March 10, 2017 – October 9, 2017
|Horse Power – The Paul Bienvenu Carriage Collection
March 24, 2016 – January 7, 2018
|DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition
December 8, 2017 – April 8, 2018
|Moments From 150 Years Ago
April 20, 2017 – January 28, 2018
|Hot Wheels™ – Race to Win™
September 9, 2017 – January 7, 2018
|Canada: Day 1
June 2, 2017 – January 7, 2018
October 6, 2017 – January 1, 2018
|Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Exhibition
March 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018
|Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings
February 15, 2018 – September 3, 2018
|Canadian War Museum|
|Vimy – Beyond the Battle
April 5, 2017 – November 12, 2017
|Canadian Forces Artists Program
February 1, 2018 – April 2, 2018
|She Who Tells a Story – Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World
December 5, 2017 – March 4, 2018
|St. Louis – Ship of Fate
March 20, 2018 – April 29, 2018
|* Total attendance as of March 31, 2018|
Marking a Sombre Centenary
During the First World War, Canada began to truly make its presence felt on the world stage. The contribution of Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge, Ypres, The Somme, and Passchendaele attracted the attention of friend and foe alike. Throughout the First World War Centenary, the Canadian War Museum has been commemorating key stories, with particularly moving exhibitions this past fiscal year.
In addition to the three Vimy exhibitions described elsewhere in this report, WAR Flowers – A Touring Art Exhibition — developed by curator Viveka Melki and les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens — offered an unusual museum experience, evoking the human side of war through the Victorian language of flowers, specially designed scents, custom crystal sculptures, and touching letters home from a First World War battlefield.
Regional Stories With Universal Themes
Canadian stories were also shared with the wider world through the online Virtual Museum of Canada. Supporting regional projects with funding and online access, the Virtual Museum of Canada greenlights an average 20 to 30 projects each year, on subjects ranging from the history of an iconic Montreal area, to labour movements, to early colour film of Inuit daily life in the High Arctic.
Together, these exhibitions not only explored the international aspects of Canadian events, but also showcased Canada’s story to a global audience.
|Number of key research projects that are progressing as planned or completed|
The Museum continued to surpass the target related to key research projects. The biggest achievement was the opening of the Canadian History Hall. This research project was the Museum’s most important priority since December 2013. It was scheduled to be opened in time for the Canada 150 celebrations and it opened on time and on budget, attracting thousands of visitors to the Museums. In addition to the Canadian History Hall, the Museums worked and delivered on key research projects such as content for the exhibition Witness – Fields of Battle Through Canadian Eyes, which opened in Arras, France, in March 2017 to coincide with the Vimy anniversary. The Museums worked on other key research projects such as the oral history project, and upcoming exhibitions including Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days. When compared to 2016–17, there were fewer research projects, but this can be attributed to the focus in 2017–18 on the Canadian History Hall and the Vimy anniversary.
The overall quarterly results suggest that the Museums continue to be relevant and a choice destination. Results would also suggest that programming is strong, and therefore, the Museums are researching interesting, appealing and important topics in Canadian history. Furthermore, audits of systems, controls and practices are important in identifying strengths and areas of improvement. This enables the Museums to continue to be relevant and appealing, and demonstrate its value to Canadians, but also deliver on the shareholders and stakeholders. Together, these activities help to support the strategic direction of the Board to establish the Museum as a hub of Canadian history for Canada and the world.
Original Research Informs New Exhibitions and Special Projects
Original research is key to painting a complete picture of Canadian history. Whether enhancing the content of a travelling exhibition, working with colleagues at partner institutions, or developing content solely in house, our historians and curators work hard to ensure that each exhibition is relevant and engaging to audiences everywhere.
Key projects this fiscal year included exhibition-related research by Canadian War Museum historians for the centenary of the Battle of Hill 70, with a special display highlighting the six Canadian soldiers who received the Victoria Cross. Work continued as well on Dieppe, an exhibition exploring the danger and drama of the tragic raid and its political fallout. Content was also developed for an exhibition on Armour from the collection of the Museo Stibbert in Italy, and for an update of the Museum’s Gallery 4, which explores Canadian involvement in international conflicts from the Gulf War on.
The Canadian Museum of History’s curators and historians were similarly busy, finalizing content for the Canadian History Hall and Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, while also developing additional content for North American presentations of an upcoming British Museum exhibition on medieval Europe. During the same span, important research continues on such subjects as popular music, coastal archaeology, the Canadian-American border, Indigenous cultures, professional and amateur sports, and children.
Archaeological Research Unearths Lingering Mysteries
Archaeological discoveries are big news among international institutions. This past year, summer fieldwork at Fort Severn in Northern Ontario offered some tantalizing clues regarding a 17th century building.
In addition, an innovative summer field institution in Nova Scotia, involving the collaboration and partnership of local Indigenous communities, raised intriguing possibilities about ancient Indigenous use of oceanfront sites.
For a number of years, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum have been repatriating Indigenous remains and ceremonial objects, developing repatriation protocols that are studied by other countries.
In 2016–17 and 2017–18, the Museum of History worked on two highly successful collaborations with Indigenous communities for the Canadian History Hall. The forensic reconstruction of a noble shíshálh family from 4,000 years ago was undertaken with members of today’s shíshálh community, and the remains of an Arctic Bay kayaker named Nuvumiutaq were interpreted with the assistance of members of the Arctic Bay community. These human remains have all since been repatriated.
In addition, both Museums are working on repatriation requests with Indigenous groups from British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
This past year, 15 exhibitions travelled to 32 venues. All told, they were seen by 418,850 visitors in communities across the country, in Mexico and in France.
Bringing History to Life in an Online World
From the controversial trial of Louis Riel to the outstanding success of Team Canada in the Summit Series, the Canadian Museum of History blog reflects key Canadian events to the wider world. The blog’s lively posts link to history, museology and popular culture, sharing Canada’s story in an accessible anecdotal style.
In addition, the website feature History in 150 Events, ended on July 1, 2017, after 150 individual daily portraits of notable moments in the life of Canada.
And the Award Goes To…
Over the past year, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum were recognized nationally and internationally for exhibition design, the visitor experience, and curatorial expertise. The Canadian Museum of History was presented with an International Design Communication Award for the Canadian History Hall in Los Angeles. And Canadian Museum of History curator Dr. David Morrison received the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s prestigious Massey Medal for his accomplishments during his wonderful career. The Canadian War Museum received an Experts’ Choice Award from TripExpert, based on reviews by international travel writers and journalists.
Through exhibitions, programming, research and more, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum explore the constantly evolving story of this land and its people. By producing compelling content for presentation in the National Capital Region, across Canada, and around the world, they also demonstrate the many contributions of Canadians to the tides of history, as well as Canada’s unique place within the human family.
- Develop exhibitions on themes of personal relevance to Museum visitors, such as the new Canadian History Hall.
- Bring exhibitions to the National Capital Region from Canadian partner museums that add community perspectives to the national narrative, such as Canada: Day 1 and Vimy – Beyond the Battle.
- Engage Museum visitors in the use of existing and emerging platforms (e.g. responsive websites, touch and wireless interactions, mixed reality and artificial intelligence).
Summary of Performance
In addition to sharing Canada’s stories with the world, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum ensure that this country’s people connect in meaningful ways with their own history. During the past year, this has included developing modules on topics ranging from Indigenous residential schools to LGBTQ rights for the Canadian History Hall, along with standalone exhibitions on subjects including immigration, commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and daily life 150 years ago.
The Museums also presented numerous exhibitions from other institutions, enhancing community perspectives and regional narratives, while also forging strong personal connections to topics as diverse as history through the eyes of children, Jewish refugees during the Second World War, and the art of animation.
Connecting with audiences via social media also remained a prime focus. The Museums made considerable use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and more, attracting new followers while providing lively and engaging content.
Exploring the Canadian Experience at the Canadian Museum of History
Special exhibitions remain one of the most effective ways of engaging Canadians in an exploration of their history and its continued relevance to daily life. By offering exhibitions that are thought-provoking, moving, informative, and sometimes just plain fun, the Museum makes learning a compelling and attractive experience.
Each year, the Museum presents a combination of exhibitions developed in-house, developed in partnership, or brought in from outside. This year was no exception, with highlights that included:
- Hockey — produced by the Canadian Museum of History — continued to enthrall Canadians with a you-are-there experience of Canada’s Game.
- Moments From 150 Years Ago — presented in partnership with Library and Archives Canada in a special gallery — explored Canada and its people at the time of Confederation.
- Snapshots of Canada — produced in association with Canada’s History — showcased iconic Canadian people, places and events in 50 carefully selected photographs.
- Canada: Day 1 — produced by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and supported by the RBC Foundation — explored the experiences of newcomers to Canada, from Confederation to the present day.
- The stunning new Canadian History Hall reflects Canadian history over the past 15,000 years, in 18 stories exploring timeless topics such as wartime internment, family trees, Indigenous ways of life, everyday Canadian heroes, and the lives of refugees.
- Hot Wheels™ – Race to Win™ — produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Mattel — invited children and their families to experiment with speed, power and performance, encouraging the James Hinchcliffes and Jacques Villeneuves of tomorrow.
- DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition — developed by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in collaboration with Universal Brand Development on behalf of DreamWorks — encouraged budding Canadian filmmakers to enter imaginary worlds through the magic of animation.
- Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings From 1964 — showcased Inuit drawings from 1964, celebrating one of this country’s most vibrant forms of Indigenous art.
- Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition — produced in partnership with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and Parks Canada Agency, and in association with the Inuit Heritage Trust and the Government of Nunavut — reminded Canadians of the importance of Indigenous know-how, Canadian underwater archaeology, and Canadian conservation and interpretation to solving this enduring mystery.
- A Little History — another exhibition presented in partnership with Library and Archives Canada in a special gallery — opened at the end of the fiscal year, presenting Canadian history through the eyes of children.
The Story of War Is the Story of Humankind
A great deal of Canada’s prestige on the world stage has been earned in times of war. The valour of our young country has been legendary over the past 100 years or more, as has the ability of Canadians to remember, commemorate and make do, while seeking a lasting peace.
During the past year, the War Museum presented numerous thought-provoking and evocative exhibitions exploring the human condition in times of conflict. Highlights included:
- She Who Tells a Story – Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World — organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston — showcased more than 85 evocative images reflecting contemporary life in the Middle East. This is a timely topic for Canadians, who have recently welcomed more than 40,000 Syrian refugees.
- St. Louis – Ship of Fate — produced by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, in collaboration with the Atlantic Jewish Council and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada — examines the tragic plight of Jewish refugees, whose ship was turned away by several countries, including Canada.
- Dieppe — produced by the Canadian War Museum — explored Canada’s bloodiest day of the Second World War, along with the political fallout.
- The Battle of Hill 70 — produced by the Canadian War Museum — profiled this 1917 action, and the six Canadian soldiers who received the Victoria Cross.
- The Canadian Forces Artists Program – Group 7 — produced in partnership with the Directorate of History and Heritage of the Department of National Defence — featured works of contemporary art, profiling Canadian military experiences, at home and abroad.
- World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 — developed and circulated by World Press Photo, and presented at the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — featured 152 large-format photographs, including images by three Canadians.
Social Media Links Canadians Everywhere With Their Museums
The Museums continued to build upon their use of social media to bring the Museums to Canadians, and Canadians to the Museums.
During the past year, all forms of social media used by the Museums increased in numbers of followers. For the Museum of History, English Facebook “likes” stood at 26,347, and French at 10,646 while Twitter followers rose to 80,027 in English and 4,626 in French. Instagram platform rose from 1,120 to almost 4,400 followers in English, and from 325 to 1,100 in French. For the War Museum, Twitter rose from 98,761 to 110,421 in English, while the French account reached close to 22,000 followers. On Facebook, the English page have 24,218 “likes” while the French page went from 3,959 to 4,528 “likes”. On Instagram, the War Museum had a strong progression, going from 369 to 1,455 followers for the English account and from 197 to 357 for the French account. Overall, both Museums had a significant progression to reach Canadians on social media.
Special Events Get Special Results
The exclusive preview of the Canadian History Hall opening was attended by 29 social-media influencers, leading to 140 Instagram posts viewed by more than 72,000 people. The exhibition video achieved a total reach of 98,000.
A glove displayed in the Canadian History Hall — presented by Canadian Paralympian and activist Rick Hansen — was also featured on the Facebook page, attracting more than 37,700 views, 1,200 post clicks, and 450 reactions related to the live coverage of the presentation ceremony alone.
Special events on social media were highly successful. Among them was the War Museum’s Facebook livestream of Remembrance Day events from Memorial Hall, which had views within its first week. Canada Remembers shared our Facebook post promoting the webcast, resulting in a total reach of nearly 96,000 persons, and nearly 370 shares.
Multiple social media initiatives undertaken in support of Vimy-related projects in Canada and abroad were also extremely successful and were shared, posted and retweeted with great frequency. There were five Facebook posts related to the opening of the exhibitions at the Museum in Ottawa and in Arras, France, with a potential reach of close to 400,000. Partners and social-media influencers also supported CWM initiatives on multiple channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) drawing further attention to our pages, and increasing our reach and number of followers.
A Facebook Live presentation of the opening for Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition was well received on social media. Other exhibition openings at both Museums were similarly popular on social media.
The results locally can be attributed to a renewed focus on Canadian history and demonstrates the commitment to reach out to Canadians across the country. These activities support the strategic direction to connect Canadians to their history and feel personally connected to their Museum experience. The results confirm that the Museums have an appealing exhibition line-up locally and are attracting visitors nationally. In some cases, visitors to travelling exhibitions may not otherwise have an opportunity to see and experience a museum exhibition.
|Number of new openings for travelling exhibitions that connect Canadians to their history|
Although below the target, the Museums opened 25 travelling exhibitions at venues across the country and internationally. There was less interest than anticipated for the exhibition Deadly Skies – Air War, 1914–1918. However, Canadians had an opportunity to see exhibitions such as Hockey, Terry Fox – Running to the Heart of Canada, Fighting in Flanders, and Kids Celebrate! Overall, the same number of exhibitions travelled as in 2016–17.
Virtual Museum of Canada Showcases Unique and Unusual Stories
Each year the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) presents an exciting slate of new exhibitions from museums and heritage organizations large and small. This year was no exception, with 33 engaging newly approved projects.
The projects are supported through the VMC’s two investment programs: Virtual Exhibits, which helps museums and heritage organizations develop medium- to large-scale online content exploring Canadian history, heritage and culture; and Community Stories, which helps smaller museums and heritage organizations work with local communities to share important regional stories. Presented in a range of styles, and reflecting institutions from every part of the country, the new projects offer Canadians unique and compelling content, such as small-town histories, fascinating glimpses into cultural traditions, and explorations of local landmarks and institutions.
Important Initiatives Strengthen Bonds with Indigenous Peoples
A relationship between the Canadian Museum of History and Indigenous peoples continues to flourish and helps inform the way we present Indigenous history to Canadians. The Indigenous Advisory Committee for the Canadian History Hall played a key role in the selection of Indigenous stories in the Hall, as well as how those stories should be told.
The RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, also continues to build upon a longstanding collaboration. It trains Indigenous individuals in a wide range of museum operations, and to date participants from 40 different Indigenous communities across Canada have successfully completed the program. The ceremony was webcast to be shared with communities and families across Canada.
|Number of special exhibitions that add community perspective to the national narrative|
The Museums presented 17 special exhibitions in the National Capital Region, compared to the annual target of eight. The target was exceeded because several new exhibitions were added to the exhibition calendar following the target-setting. Special exhibitions included Canada: Day 1, Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, WAR Flowers – A Touring Art Exhibition and St. Louis – Ship of Fate. Compared to 2016–17, the Museums surpassed the results by six.
Making Headlines in Traditional Media
During the past year, both Museums have enjoyed considerable media interest, due in large part to buzz surrounding commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, opening of the new Canadian History Hall, and Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition. Staff worked tirelessly to engage traditional media, ensuring that Canadians remain informed of offerings at both Museums.
For example, the coverage for the Canadian History Hall opening reached every province and territory, and generated 371 news items across all media with an audience of 27 million Canadians. Vimy – Beyond the Battle, the upgrade to Gallery 4 and the Witness exhibition in France, along with other programs related to VIMY100, generated 546 news items. Through exhibitions, social and traditional media, and through carefully cultivated community relationships, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum continue to explore the personal connections between history and everyday life, engaging Canadians directly in their country’s evolving story.
- Ensure the Museums’ acquisition strategies are focused on collecting objects of historical significance.
- Expand efforts to acquire objects by cultivating relationships with collectors and by actively pursuing donations.
- Position the Museums as the national repository of objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history.
Summary of Performance
Museums are, by nature, collecting institutions, using their collections to share more comprehensive stories with their audiences. Over the past year, both the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum have acquired outstanding objects, as well as full collections, including the Mike Wilson and Debra Thuet Ultimate Leafs Fan Collection, and the Hess Collection of Inuit Art and Ethnographic Material from the estate of Dr. Margaret Perkins Hess.
The Museums also work with donors, partners and other institutions to acquire iconic objects for their national human history and military history collections. Key acquisitions in 2017–18 have included three important Victoria Cross medal sets and related material.
Due in part to a new Collections Plan and the hard work of staff and the Board of Trustees, the Museums’ collections are home to many of Canada’s national treasures, along with hundreds of thousands of objects reflecting the history of Canada and its people.
New Plan Puts Future Collections on a Solid Footing
This year, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum finalized a new Collections Development Plan that will guide collections development at both Museums over the next ten years. The plan sets priorities for the development of new collections and the enrichment of existing collections.
It includes guiding principles to ensure the continued preservation of collections, the building of knowledge associated with the collections, accessibility of the collections to Canadians, and the upholding of ethical principles. This vision also addresses issues such as digitization and repatriation of Indigenous artifacts, and establishes guidelines to determine acquisition priorities.
These artifacts joined the millions of other artifacts in the collection that are distinctive and reflect Canada’s history, supporting the strategic direction of the Board to develop a collection that better reflects the country’s history and distinctiveness.
|Number of nationally significant acquisitions that reflect Canadian history|
Forecasting for this activity is done in the previous fiscal year, and it is often difficult to predict. In 2017–18, the Museums acquired 30 artifacts of national significance compared to the target of 36. Acquisitions included a 19th century argillite recorder, a major collection of Inuit prints and sculptures, and medals and items belonging to Clifford Chadderton, the CEO of the War Amps. Compared to 2016–17, the Museums were below the results by three. Given the challenge with forecasting and after an internal discussion about the usefulness of this performance indicator, the Museum has decided to monitor and report on this activity by another means in future.
Victoria Cross Acquisitions Keep Tangible Recognition of Homegrown Heroes in Canada
The collection of objects reflecting Canadian courage during the First World War was a major focus this year for the Canadian War Museum, and included the acquisition of two Victoria Cross medal sets.
The first of these was awarded to Corporal Colin Fraser Barron of the Canadian Expeditionary Force for his heroism at Passchendaele. Its acquisition was especially meaningful this year, given the Museum’s ongoing commemoration of the First World War Centenary and iconic 1917 battles that include Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge.
Acquisition of the Barron Victoria Cross medal set was made possible with the generous support of Leslie Barron Kerr — Corporal Barron’s great-granddaughter — and through the donor-supported National Collection Fund, which helps the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum acquire nationally significant artifacts.
The second Victoria Cross medal set belonged to Lieutenant-Colonel Harcus Strachan of the Fort Garry Horse. Strachan earned the Victoria Cross on November 20, 1917, at Masinières, France. After his squadron leader was killed during a cavalry charge, Strachan led the men through machine-gun fire to take the enemy battery. Strachan and his men returned safely, bringing 15 prisoners with them.
Acquisition of the Strachan Victoria Cross medal set was made possible through the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Movable Cultural Property Program, the Museum’s National Collection Fund, and the generous support of two private donors: Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Brian Hastings, and Honorary Colonel Robert Williams, both of the Fort Garry Horse.
The third Victoria Cross acquisition by the War Museum this year was the one awarded to Saskatchewan native Lieutenant-Colonel David Vivian Currie of the South Alberta Regiment, for his exceptional leadership and bravery in a decisive battle of the Second World War.
The purchase was made possible by the generous support of the Movable Cultural Property Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Museum’s donor-supported National Collection Fund, and generous contributions from the Brownlee Family Foundation, as well as the following honorary members of the North Saskatchewan Regiment and their families: Heather Ryan and L. David Dube, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel; Sandra Howe and Dallas Howe, Honorary Colonel; Sandra Stromberg and Robert Stromberg, former Honorary Colonel.
A Sizeable Acquisition Reflecting Canada’s Game
This year, the Canadian Museum of History acquired The Mike Wilson and Debra Thuet Ultimate Leafs Fan Collection, one of Canada’s most acclaimed private collections of hockey artifacts. The collection was built over 50 years by Toronto resident Mike Wilson, earning him the nickname “The Ultimate Leafs Fan” from ESPN and other media.
The collection comprises more than 1,700 items, including rare treasures that belonged to Canadian hockey legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Francis Michael “King” Clancy, Paul Henderson, Tim Horton and Conn Smythe. Deemed to be of “outstanding significance and national importance” by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, the Collection has been acquired by the Museum in its entirety. With the acquisition of this large and diverse collection, the Museum has become the keeper of one of the most historically significant and comprehensive collections of hockey artifacts in Canada.
A Glove From Canada’s Man in Motion
This year, Paralympian Rick Hansen presented the Canadian Museum of History with one of the gloves he wore on his famous Man in Motion World Tour. Inspired by Terry Fox’s cross-Canada Marathon of Hope for cancer research, Hansen completed the equivalent of two marathons every wheeling day. From March 1985 to May 1987, Hansen wheeled himself through 34 countries on four continents — an immense effort requiring some 15 million strokes of his wheelchair. The glove is now displayed in the Canadian History Hall.
Remembering Canadian Participation in the Liberation of Holland
The family of James McGinnis, a member of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC) during the Second World War, donated a pair of miniature wooden shoes to the Canadian War Museum this year. Known as Liberation Wooden Shoes (bevrijdingsklompjes), they were presented to members of the Canadian and Allied Forces during the Second World War, as a way of expressing gratitude for their country’s liberation. The shoes were displayed in the War Museum’s lobby in July 2017.
Inuit Art from a Passionate and Unique Collector
A collection of Inuit art and ethnographic material selected from the estate of Dr. Margaret Perkins Hess was acquired by the Canadian Museum of History this year. Perkins Hess, who passed away in 2016, was inspired by the art of the Haida and other Indigenous peoples of Canada’s Pacific Northwest. She befriended numerous Indigenous artists, introducing their work to the public through galleries in Calgary, making that city one of Canada’s first showcases for aboriginal art and culture.
Developing Exhibitions Around Key Acquisitions
The Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum often build vitrines and even full exhibitions around important acquisitions. Over the past year, these have included Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings From 1964, featuring 50 Inuit drawings from the Terrence Peter Ryan Collection, acquired in 2014; Beyond Bluenose – The William James Roué Collection, showcasing material related to the iconic Canadian schooner from a collection acquired in 2015; and the McGinnis Liberation Wooden Shoes, acquired this year.
Through practices focused on acquiring objects of national importance and historical significance, and by working closely with collectors and partners, over the past year the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum have been able to add outstanding collections and individual artifacts to their holdings. Further, by putting these objects on display, loaning them to other institutions, or simply studying them, the Museums continue to cement their reputations as trustworthy repositories and interpreters of Canada’s material culture.
- Further develop the History Museums Network to include First Nations museums and cultural centers.
- Initiate or participate in partnerships with like-minded institutions, such as large-scale international consortiums and local cultural institutions.
- Continue to establish and build upon international partnerships to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and cultures.
Summary of Performance
Partnerships and networks are key to ensuring a sharing of ideas, expertise, events and collections among cultural institutions and related organizations. During the past year, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum actively cultivated numerous mutually beneficial partnerships with communities, foundations, corporations, and government and cultural organizations, both across Canada and around the world.
These partnerships — as well as the expanding History Museums Network, originally spearheaded by the Canadian Museum of History — have helped enhance national awareness of Canadian and world history, while also sharing Canadian stories with a global audience.
Playing a Central Role in Sesquicentennial Celebrations
As Canada’s national museums of human and military history, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum were key sites for the commemoration of Canada’s sesquicentennial, both within the National Capital Region and beyond. Undertakings of this magnitude require considerable cooperation, making key partnerships essential.
This past year, the Museum of History was active on several external committees designed to support government initiatives in 2017, including Canada 150. Part of this process involved hosting partnership events at both Museums. On July 1, the Museum attracted over 20,000 visitors with the opening of the Canadian History Hall as well as celebrating the sesquicentennial.
In addition to partnering with the Department of Canadian Heritage and other government departments on important events, the Museum was the designated location for a bronze statue marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of Chief Tessouat, an outstanding Indigenous leader and shrewd trade negotiator.
Canada’s sesquicentennial ended at the Canadian Museum of History with a bang on December 31, 2017. In addition to providing an unparalleled view of the region’s fireworks display, the Museum hosted Nimidiwin. This showcase of Indigenous culture highlighted the many unique communities of Turtle Island in a brilliant New Year’s Eve display of Indigenous dance and music.
These events and related media coverage positioned the Museum as a major site for commemorations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
Bringing Archival Material to Life
A partnership between the Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada resulted in the second and third exhibitions in Treasures From Library and Archives Canada, a gallery within the Museum. Moments From 150 Years Ago explored daily life at the time of Confederation, while A Little History looked at Canadian history as experienced by children.
|Number of partnerships and collaborations initiated|
Although the number of partnerships was not quite as high as in 2016–17, the Museum continued to exceed its target. In 2017–18, the Museums partnered and collaborated with organizations on 53 projects and events, compared its annual target of 22. This can be attributed to exceptional programming, the unveiling of the Canadian History Hall, the exhibition Vimy – Beyond the Battle, and the Museum being a destination of choice. The Museums partnered with organizations such as the National Gallery of Canada on the reinstallation of the Canadian and Indigenous galleries, the Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity on potential projects, and the National Film Board on the production of multimedia elements for Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days.
Partnerships Bring Economics, History and Geography Together at the Museums
In addition to events related to the Canadian History Hall, the Museum of History hosted numerous partnership events throughout the year, helping to build and strengthen relationships with stakeholder groups, while further cementing the Museum’s reputation as a national hub of human history. Highlights included partnerships with l’Association de la presse francophone, the Canadian Archaeological Association Conference, the Canadian Museums Association Conference, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, La Grande dictée et la Ligue nationale d’improvisation, the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner, the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair, the Global Research Council, the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Corporation also developed a partnership with the National Association of Japanese Canadians. During the year, more 200 members of the Association visited the Museum from across the country, representing a new constituency for the Museum and its programs.
The War Museum was similarly active. Partnership events over the past year included the Candlelight Tribute for Veterans, the Knowledge Summit — held in partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada — the Great Canadian Debates, the Chief of Defence Staff Reception, the annual kickoff to the international Nijmegen March, and ceremonies related to the Silver Cross Mother, and West Point Cadets.
The Press Gallery Dinner Reconvenes at the Canadian Museum of History
Previously held at the War Museum, the prestigious Press Gallery Dinner took place at the Museum of History this year. Along with journalists from across Canada, attendees included Parliamentarians and other Canadians of note.
The Importance of Hosting and Outreach
Many partnerships at the Museums have originated in special events and outreach. Over the past year, both Museums continued to develop key relationships by hosting ceremonies, lectures, dinners, and even a movie night.
Highlights at the Canadian Museum of History included special receptions and events with the Kitigan Zibi and the Nisga’a communities, the National Association of Japanese Canadians, representatives of Arctic Bay, the shíshálh First Nation, the First World War Internment Recognition Fund, and others. In addition, the Museum hosted events such as Black History Month, Winterlude, Movie Night on the Hill, and the Belgian Royal Visit, in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage and other federal departments.
The Museum of History also partnered with the Native Women’s Association of Canada to announce the loan of Maxine Noel’s painting Not Forgotten. The painting, which depicts missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, is now on view in the Canadian History Hall. Its presentation helps visitors reflect on the difficulties faced by Indigenous communities in Canada.
Highlights at the Canadian War Museum include the visit from Their Excellencies King Filip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. This is the first visit by the monarchs to Canada in over 41 years, recognizing Canada’s involvement in the liberation of Belgium during the First World War.
It also included a visit from Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, and a group of 20 children of military families and their parents in the lead-up to April and the Month of the Military Child. The Museum was also the site of a commemorative visit by 100 people from the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Association, and of the commemoration of Passchendaele. The Museum also welcomed the Silver Cross Mother in partnership with the Royal Canadian Legion, organized tours with dignitaries from Australia, Brazil, Latvia and Chile, and hosted the Canadian Armed Forces Photography Awards.
The results would suggest the Museums have not only reached out but have strong relationships within the museum community. The partnerships and collaborations initiated during the year are varied in scope, institution and location, and support the strategic direction of the Board to engage in dynamic partnerships and networks nationally and internationally with benefits for all parties.
|Number of projects initiated through the History Museums Network|
The Museum did not reach its annual target of 10 projects initiated through the network. The Museum initiated a discussion with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Musée de la civilisation for an exhibition partnership on civil liberties. Like last year, there were fewer opportunities to meet when compared to previous years, as well as fewer opportunities through the network. The network has been running since 2013, and it may be time to review and identify areas of improvement. The Museums are five projects ahead of the 2016–17 results.
Extending the Reach of Museums Large and Small Through the History Museums Network
Originated by the Canadian Museum of History in 2013, the History Museums Network continues to expand. This intra-museum partnership allows Canadian museums to share resources and expertise in highly practical ways. Over the past year, the Canadian Museum of History has continued to bring important exhibitions from across Canada to the National Capital Region, while giving Canadians across the country greater access to exhibitions created by both the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum.
International Collaborations Bring Canada to the World, and the World to Canada
Commemoration of Canadian involvement in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, during the First World War, provided a backdrop for presentation of the Canadian War Museum exhibition, Witness – Fields of Battle Through Canadian Eyes, at the Musée des beaux-arts in Arras, France.
The War Museum also worked with the Juno Beach Centre Association, a Canadian charity that operates the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives on D-Day during the Second World War, and collaborated with the War Museum on the exhibition From Vimy to Juno, presented at the War Museum in May 2017, covering both the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 and the D-Day Landings on Juno Beach in 1944.
At the Canadian Museum of History, development of the intriguing exhibition Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition — in partnership with the National Maritime Museum in England and Parks Canada Agency, and in collaboration with the Inuit Heritage Trust and the Government of Nunavut — was a rewarding experience. The exhibition not only explored the fate of the British expedition and its men, but also highlighted the importance of Inuit knowledge, as well as Canadian archaeological and conservation expertise.
Scholarly Lecture Series Attracts Nearly One Million People
The inaugural Stursberg War Correspondents Lecture, featuring keynote speaker Lyse Doucet of the BBC, was held at the War Museum, in partnership with the Carleton School of Journalism, and drew a full house of 250 to the Barney Danson Theatre. An additional 800,000 people heard the rebroadcast of the lecture on the CBC’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy, which aired on Dec 29, 2017.
Remembering the Holocaust
The Canadian War Museum’s relationship with the Jewish-Canadian Community was further strengthened through a partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, involving the September 2017 unveiling of the new National Holocaust Memorial near the Museum.
The Museum was also the high-profile venue for two important events related to the launch. The National Holocaust Monument Development Council held its donor reception in the Barney Danson Theatre, and the Department of Canadian Heritage held official federal ceremonies in the LeBreton Gallery. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly were among the 500 guests for the latter event.
Community Festivals Launch New Traditions and Relationships
The Museum of History played host to Gatineau’s Beerfest, a showcase for regional microbreweries, which featured more than 30 exhibitors, more than 350 artisanal beers, and numerous food trucks. Summer and winter versions of the festival attracted more than 35,000 attendees. Beerfest also offers a number of family-focused activities.
In a similar way, the 2017 Christmas Market, an event that has been held at the Museum of History since 2014, featured the work of local artisans.
In the summer of 2017, the Museum of History also welcomed a special Canada 150 edition of the Casino du Lac-Leamy’s spectacular Sound of Light international pyrotechnics competition.
The world of scale plastic models came together at the Canadian War Museum for CAPCON, Ottawa’s long-running premier scale plastic model contest, celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary in style. The model competition was held in the Museum’s LeBreton Gallery among full-size military artifacts.
Partnerships and the cultivation of enduring relationships remained a key focus at both Museums this year. By combining forces with communities, organizations and associations, cultural institutions, businesses and governments across Canada and around the world, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum continue to expand their ability bring outstanding events, exhibitions and programming to Canadians everywhere.
- Continue to develop innovative and responsible strategies to diversify revenue streams.
- Continue to implement funding strategies.
- Continue to engage the shareholder in developing a new funding model, which would include inflation protection.
Summary of Performance
As national museums, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum are financially supported by the Government of Canada. In addition, both Museums actively develop and test new streams of revenue ranging from merchandise to special events, while also seeking and implementing internal economies.
Sponsorships and donations are also key to the Museums’ financial success and viability. This fiscal year has been particularly rewarding in this regard, thanks to the outstanding generosity of sponsors and donors, large and small.
|Dollar value of all revenue-generating activities (in ‘000s)|
The Museum had an exceptional year, generating $20,000,000 compared to its target of $16,357,000. This can be attributed to increased visitation, improved selection at the gift shops, a significant increase in Membership sales, a pricing model change and an increase in rental rates, and being a destination of choice for visitors and events. There was also high demand for facility rentals surrounding the Canada 150 celebrations. This represents an approximately 5% increase in revenue-generating activities compared to 2016–17.
|Dollar value of fundraising activities (in ‘000s)|
2017–18 was a financially successful year for the Museum, including in the area of fundraising. The Museum raised $4,964,496, compared to its target of $3,000,000. The Canadian History Hall and First World War campaigns generated a significant amount of funds every quarter throughout 2017–18.
|Number of significant capital projects that are progressing as planned|
In 2017–18, the Museum had seven capital projects progressing as planned, compared to a target of four. As with activities related to auditing, acquisitions and the network, targets are set in the previous year and can sometimes be difficult to forecast. There can be unplanned capital projects during the year, particularly at the Canadian Museum of History, given that its infrastructure and equipment is aging and approaching the end of its lifecycle. The Museums benefited from additional funding provided by the Government of Canada to address operational pressures, allowing the corporation to address the most pressing needs and use reserved funds for other significant projects such as chillers, air handling units and emergency generator replacements.
In 2017–18, 4,311 donors, corporations and foundations from across Canada and abroad contributed $2,911,343 to the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum, as well as artifacts valued at an additional $2,053,153. The corporation is extremely grateful for their generous support.
Record Fundraising in Anticipation of Canada’s Sesquicentennial
The ambitious slate of activities undertaken by both Museums is often dependent upon financial donations. In addition to annual contributions from more than 5,000 supporters, the Museums have received significant donations and pledges this past year.
The previous fiscal year was record-breaking when it came to fundraising. Nearly $9 million was raised for the Canadian History Hall alone. This included support for Hall exhibits, as well as support for educational and outreach initiatives.
This year, a generous gift of $1 million from the Rossy Family Foundation led to the creation of the Rossy Family Canadian History Hall Education Fund at the Canadian Museum of History. The Fund has already resulted in a suite of new school programs for students and new guided experiences for all visitors, and will continue to support the development of additional educational programming for years to come.
The Wilson Foundation’s generous gift of $600,000 supports an educational outreach and engagement project, leveraging assets at the Canadian Museum of History, while engaging focus groups to provide valuable feedback towards the development of programming with a national reach.
The Salamander Foundation has also supported educational initiatives related to the Canadian History Hall, with a $100,000 gift for online programming aimed at reaching audiences across Canada.
Supporting the Final Year of the First World War Centenary
The Canadian War Museum welcomed the generous donation of $125,000 from John and Elizabeth Irving for the exhibition Vimy – Beyond the Battle, which raised awareness of the battle, as well as various forms of remembrance and commemoration.
Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days, which will be a significant 2018–19 exhibition on Canada’s contribution to Allied victory during the final months of the First World War, also received support from the Irvings with a donation of $125,000.
Honouring Canada’s Heroes
Private donations have played a key role this year in the Canadian War Museum’s acquisition of three Victoria Cross medal sets.
The Barron Victoria Cross purchase was made possible with the generous support of Leslie Barron Kerr, Corporal Barron’s great-granddaughter, and by the donor-supported National Collection Fund, which helps the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum acquire nationally significant artifacts.
Acquisition of the Strachan Victoria Cross Medal Set was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Movable Cultural Property Program and the Museum’s National Collection Fund, as well as the generous support of two private donors: Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Brian Hastings and Honorary Colonel Robert Williams, both of Strachan’s regiment, the Fort Garry Horse.
Just as important were donor efforts, with support from the Movable Cultural Property Program, to ensure that the Currie Victoria Cross medal set remain in Canada. Following its sale at auction in September 2017, the buyer announced plans to take the medal set overseas, while federal law gave potential Canadian buyers six months to offer a higher price. The War Museum is deeply grateful to four donors from Saskatchewan who stepped forward to provide their support for this important acquisition: the Brownlee Family Foundation, as well as the following honorary members of the North Saskatchewan Regiment and their families: Heather Ryan and L. David Dube, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel; Sandra Howe and Dallas Howe, Honorary Colonel; and Sandra Stromberg and Robert Stromberg, former Honorary Colonel.
The three medal sets were exhibited together at the War Museum in May 2018.
A Partnership Benefitting Indigenous Museum Professionals
This year, the RBC Foundation renewed its support for the RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices. Their gift of $100,000, of this successful one-of-a-kind program, provides eight-month internships to First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals from across Canada. Interns are offered specialized professional and technical training to enhance their skills in various aspects of museum operations.
Leveling the Playing Field
Supported by Shaw Media, the Shaw School Access Program provides curriculum-linked workshops for students from lower-income neighbourhoods. Shaw’s sponsorship of $75,000 makes the program available to students and educators, and includes transportation. In 2017–18, around 4,100 students from 55 schools in the region took part in 216 programs at both the Museum of History and the War Museum.
Streamlining Operations and Developing New Revenue Streams
Aware that Museums are slowly evolving from places of learning to interactive social venues, both Museums have continued to expand their offerings. Special lectures, theme dinners and food-tastings, and other paid events, are providing visitors with new ways of interacting with the Museums and with one another.
The Museums also maintain an active publishing program that produces popular souvenir catalogues for each exhibition, many of which quickly sell out. Theme merchandise related to each major exhibition is also a reliable source of revenue.
In addition, both Museums keep a close eye on fair market value for admission and amenities such as parking, and have raised both admission and parking fees this year. Memberships are up as well, with a combined total of 22,164 memberships at both Museums.
Maintaining Iconic Facilities
The buildings housing the Canadian War Museum and Canadian Museum of History are architecturally significant. Maintaining facilities to international standards of conservation, health and safety is costly but essential to the visitor experience, as well as to maintaining priceless artifacts and attracting major travelling exhibitions.
|Number of follow-up actions on audit recommendations that have been completed|
The analysis for this activity is the same as in 2016–17. The targets set in the previous year, in this case, 2016–17, are based on recommendations that are carried forward and an estimate of the number of recommendations stemming from the scheduled audits. In the second quarter of 2017–18, the Museums, with the support of the Board of Trustees, reset the outstanding 12 deliverables stemming from the Special Examination conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Audit of Collections Management, and the Audit of Systems and Practices for Performance Management, Succession Planning and Staffing. Given the challenge with forecasting and an internal discussion about the usefulness of this performance indicator, the Museum will monitor and report on this activity by other means in future.
Responding to Audit Recommendations
Part of ensuring financial viability involves periodic assessment of an organization’s practices and use of resources. The corporation accordingly maintains an internal audit function, which is guided by a three-year risk-based audit plan. During this second year of the plan, the Museum conducted a corporation-wide review and renewal of the corporate risk profile. A list of risks was developed and validated by the Board of Trustees, and the risk-based audit plan will be updated accordingly. The Corporation provides reports on a quarterly basis to ensure that the plan unfolds as required.
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada also conducted an Annual Attest Audit of the corporation’s financial statements.
This has been an invigorating year for the corporation in financial terms. Donations towards the Canadian History Hall and the First World War Centenary have been generous, as have donations towards key acquisitions and educational and training initiatives. Given that we cannot necessarily expect similar fundraising success every year, work continues in seeking internal economies and developing new revenue streams.
In addition, a comprehensive Fundraising Plan is being developed to guide sponsorship and major giving over the next three-to-five years, and both Museums continue to work hard to maintain their value to Canadians by providing stimulating programming in attractive facilities.