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Annual Report 2018–2019


The Year in Review: Achievements

The Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum — collectively described in this report as “the Museum” — undertake their work within five strategic directions. High-level priorities are determined for each strategic direction, within an overall five-year planning period. Key achievements within each of the strategic directions are outlined below.

▲ Results within 10% of target or surpassing target
● Results within 11–24% of target
▼ Results 25% or more off target

Establish the Museum as a hub of Canadian history for Canada and the world


  • Leverage the opening of the Canadian History Hall and strengthen related educational offerings and outreach activities.
  • Conduct research and present exhibitions on key topics in Canadian history.
  • Launch the planning for the Canadian Children’s Museum renewal.


During the year in review, the Canadian Museum of History maintained its position as a key hub for the exploration of Canadian history. General attendance remained high for the Canadian History Hall at nearly 340,000, and new educational programming and outreach initiatives reinforced many of the Hall’s stories and thematic content.

Beyond the national narrative of the Canadian History Hall, the Museum undertook research on topics related to events, large and small, in the story of Canada and its people. Military history was also a major draw, as compelling exhibitions closed out a four-year commemoration of the First World War Centenary.

In addition, planning has begun in earnest towards a reimagined Canadian Children’s Museum, with public consultations and internal team building underway by the end of the fiscal year.

Paid attendance (in ‘000s)
Result ▲ 702
Target 697
2017–18 Result 803
The Museum welcomed a total of 702,000 paying visitors compared to its target of 697,000. This solid performance was driven by exhibitions such as Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour, Armour and Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days. Paid attendance was 13 percent lower than the previous year. This was fully expected, considering that the previous year saw the opening of the much-awaited Canadian History Hall.
On-site attendance (in ‘000s)
Result ▲ 1,673
Target 1,700
2017–18 Result 1,997
The Museum attracted 1,673,000 visitors to its grounds in 2018–19, with annual events such as Canada Day, Feux du Casino Sound of Light, Bluesfest, Riverside Festival and Festibière attracting many visitors, in addition to group visits and rentals. On-site attendance at both Museums combined was 16 percent lower when compared to the previous year. This was fully expected given that the previous year saw the opening of the Canadian History Hall and exceptional tourism levels in the National Capital Region because of Canada 150.

The World and All That’s in It — Presenting Compelling and Memorable Exhibitions

Exhibitions remain one of the most meaningful ways for museums to engage with the general public. This year’s exhibitions at the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum transported visitors across time and space from Medieval Europe to 19th-century Montréal, and the battlefields of the Western Front to conflicts in Korea and Afghanistan.

Exhibitions are developed either by the Museums themselves, or in partnership with other institutions. Topics are carefully selected for their timeliness, broad appeal and educational value, and have helped both Museums maintain remarkable levels of attendance, and positive feedback.

At the Canadian Museum of History, the summer season opened with the new major exhibition, Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour, featuring more than 200 treasures from the collection of the British Museum in London. Developed by the British Museum in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of History, the exhibition explored a world of kings and nobles, knights and peasants, as well as traditions ranging from courtly love to jousting. A popular draw among visitors of all ages, the presentation included innovative scenography evoking areas of a castle and its grounds, as well as the bustle of a crowded medieval town. The use of this style of immersive digital technology was a first for the Museum of History.

Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History.

Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour

In the fall, the Museum opened Notman, Visionary Photographer, exploring 19th-century Canada through the lens of Montréal’s William Notman. Featuring 300 prints from the McCord Museum, the exhibition profiled the work of a pioneering photographer, and the innovations that earned him an international reputation. The Museum was proud to have had this opportunity to closely collaborate with the McCord Museum, a long-standing member of the History Museum’s Network.

Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History.

Notman, Visionary Photographer

Reflecting a partnership with Library and Archives Canada, the Museum of History presented Treasures from Library and Archives Canada: A Little History. This is the second in a series of five planned partner exhibitions and showcased the experiences of Canadian children as witnesses to important historical events.

Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History.

Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition

Continuing travelling exhibitions at the Canadian Museum of History included the highly popular Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, which explored the enduring mystery of the tragic Franklin Expedition, along with recent archaeological discoveries and Inuit accounts of the Expedition’s final days. This important exhibition was the result of a partnership between the Museum of History, Parks Canada Agency, the National Maritime Museum (London, England), the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust. eriateg Also reflecting an Arctic theme, Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings from 1964 featured 50 compelling works of art reflecting a time of great social upheaval in the North. This exhibition was of particular significance, as it was the first time these drawings had been publicly displayed since their creation and since being acquired by the Museum.

Exhibition at the Canadian War Museum.

Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days

Exhibitions at the Canadian War Museum focused largely on the final year of the First World War Centenary. Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days, presented from October 26, 2018 to March 31, 2019, brought together artifacts, documents, works of art, film and photographs, and followed each day’s battles from August 8, 1918 to the Armistice on November 11. The exhibition concluded with a thought-provoking look at the aftermath of this costly conflict, and the enduring physical and psychological scars of Canada’s men and women in uniform.

One of the most-followed aspects of the exhibition’s social media content was a series of 100 daily posts — or one for every consecutive day in the final push to Allied victory. Each post described that day’s military activity and included a photograph and firsthand account by someone who was there, or someone otherwise affected by the day’s events.

An important historical conference in January 2019 further explored the legacy of the First World War. Canada 1919: A Country Shaped by War included sessions on the post-war reintegration of veterans, the war’s legacy in Canada and abroad, and the roles played by Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire. Renowned Canadian author and historian Margaret MacMillan delivered an opening keynote address on the perilous transition from war to peace. The conference, organized by the War Museum was very well attended, and tickets for the keynote address quickly sold out.

In addition to Victory 1918, the Canadian War Museum explored the First World War through several exhibitions featuring art and photography. Ready to Serve – Canadian Panoramic Photographs of the First World War,  The Great War in Colour – A New Look at Canada’s First World War Effort, 1914–1918 and Resilience – The Battlefield Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, 1919–1922. were unique explorations of Canada’s First World War contributions through an artistic lens. Beyond its commemoration of the First World War Centenary, several other exhibitions at the War Museum explored various aspects of the human side of conflict.

Exhibition at the Canadian War Museum.

Mounted Knights featured in the special exhibition Armor

The major exhibition of the summer was Armour, developed by Contemporanea Progetti in collaboration with the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy, and the Canadian War Museum. Showcasing stunning works of Renaissance armour from the collection of the Museo Stibbert, the exhibition also featured other forms of protective gear, from hockey equipment and military kit to the suit worn by Iron Man on the big screen.

Korea 65 reflected an important anniversary for some 30,000 Canadian veterans and their families, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, which ended three years of fighting between North and South Korea. The exhibition included a selection of wartime photographs depicting Canada’s participation in the Korean War, the uneasy ceasefire that followed the 1953 armistice, and the war’s enduring legacy. The War Museum completed a review of the personnel files of all 516 Canadians listed as having died as the result of Korean War service. The data from these files was used to map each soldier’s place of birth, address on enlistment, and the location of their death. This research project resulted in publications, exhibition upgrades to the Canadian War Museum’s Korean War displays in Gallery 4, and an online map which has been viewed 38,279 times since November 2018.

The Wounded featured a series of striking black-and-white portraits of 18 Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan, taken by photojournalist Stephen J. Thorne. Developed in partnership with Legion Magazine, the exhibition illustrated stories of loss, recovery and hope, and took an unflinching look at the struggles and hopes of Canadian veterans and their physical and psychological scars.

Exhibition at the Canadian War Museum.

Leah Cuffe and Master Corporal Mike Trauner in front of Stephen J. Thorne portrait

The travelling exhibition St. Louis – Ship of Fate, on loan from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, told the heartrending story of more than 900 Jewish refugees who fled Germany aboard the St. Louis in 1939. Refused entry by several countries, including Canada, the ship and its passengers returned to Europe, where many were killed in the Holocaust. Through photographs, texts and audiovisual materials, the exhibition explored the circumstances surrounding this human rights tragedy, and the dark history of Canadian immigration and anti-Semitism during the 1930s.

Special Exhibitions *Attendance
Canadian Museum of History
Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour
June 7, 2018 to January 20, 2019
Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Exhibition
March 1 to September 30, 2018
Treasures From LAC: A Little History
March 29, 2018 to January 27, 2019
Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings
February 15 to September 3, 2018
Notman, Visionary Photographer
November 22, 2018 to April 14, 2019
DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition
December 8, 2017 to April 8, 2018
Last week of presentation
Canadian War Museum
June 14 to September 3, 2018
Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days
October 25, 2018 to March 31, 2019
St. Louis – Ship of Fate
March 20 to April 29, 2018
Last three weeks of presentation
* Special exhibition attendance from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. Stats for displays are not available.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Both Museums remained active in the area of research, with 47 projects either completed or progressing as planned. The Museum of History worked on as many major research projects during the year. Priorities, pursuant to the Research Strategy, included Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian North, population migrations, politics, and contemporary history. A major archaeological workshop began a national dialogue on the human impact of erosion. The Museum used an aerial drone for the first time to map settlement patterns in ancient Alberta. Oral history programs continued with both recent Syrian refugees, and extraordinary Canadians of national influence. Thousands of objects were reviewed or prepared for possible repatriation to Indigenous communities. Museum scholars published or presented dozens of papers at national and international — for or represented — the Museum at professional gatherings.

At the War Museum, research work is ongoing in relation to upgrades of permanent exhibition modules in galleries and upcoming temporary exhibitions. Work continues on upgrades to the Corvette Bridge, the D-Day photo exhibition, the Second World War temporary exhibition, and the Second World War Supply Line program. The Military History Resource Centre released online and printed research guides for Canadian Women in Uniform, Canadians in the Air, the Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Navy, and the CEF and Canadian Army during the First and Second World Wars.

Number of key research projects that are progressing as planned or completed
Result ▲ 47
Target 32
2017–18 Result 38
The Museum was very active in the research area, with 47 research projects either completed or progressing as planned. This was a greater number of projects than initially targeted, and more than the previous year. The increase can be explained by the return of curators previously assigned to the Canadian History Hall and the addition of new curatorial staff. Over the course of the year, an archaeological project at the site of Fort Severn in northern Ontario was completed, preliminary archaeological field work in Alberta was undertaken, and significant progress was made on the framework for a coastal archaeology project. Major work was undertaken on upcoming exhibitions, including exhibitions on civil liberties, on Canada and the Second World War, and on the experiences of Indigenous Peoples abroad. Work continued on upgrades to Gallery 3 at the War Museum. Preparatory work was completed on a major oral history project, with interviews to be conducted in 2019. Museum curators and historians were also active in terms of publications and participation in conferences, including 1968 in Canada: A Year and Its Legacies, organized in partnership with Fulbright Canada and other organizations, and Canada 1919: A Country Shaped by War, hosted by the War Museum and with Dr. Margaret MacMillan as the keynote speaker. Dr. Tim Cook’s The Secret History of Soldiers was published in September 2018 by Penguin Random House and was very well received. The Military History Resource Centre released online and printed research guides for Canadian Women in Uniform, Canadians in the Air, the Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Navy, and the CEF and Canadian Army in the world wars.

Archeological project COASTAL.

Dr. Matthew Betts and his team
Photo from personal collection

Making a Splash in the Blogosphere

From collection highlights to exhibition stories, to its Photo of the Week feature, blog posts from the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum present a wide range of information for visitors of all ages and interests.

Posts this year ranged from a profile of a silver mustard pot owned by one of Quebec’s seigneurial families to a piece featuring politician Daniel Johnson and his legacy as Quebec Premier. A 2,000-year-old Tyara ivory maskette was also a popular figure presented in the Artifact of the Week section. The Warhol portrait of Wayne Gretzky, and 100 days of battlefield bulletins reflecting the final 100 days of the First World War were also appreciated features in the blog section.

Sharing Canadian Stories Beyond Our Walls

Each year, the Museum sends several of its exhibitions across the country and around the world. This year, for the first time since the travelling exhibition program began, all available travelling exhibitions were booked at the same time, representing 12 different exhibitions in 25 venues.

All told, Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum travelling exhibitions were seen by tens of thousands of visitors in communities across the country.

Connect Canadians to their history and reflect this personal connection in all aspects of the Museums Experience


  • Develop exhibitions on themes of personal relevance to Museum visitors.
  • Bring exhibitions to the National Capital from Canadian museums which add community perspectives to the national narrative.
  • Continue to engage Museum visitors through projects such as the Virtual Museum of Canada and other digital tools.


Throughout the year, the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum were active in developing exhibitions and programming exploring the stories of Canadians. Work continued on upcoming exhibitions on Quebec archaeology, on recent scientific studies surrounding the Neanderthals, and on civil liberties in Canada, as well as Canadians at the Battle of Normandy, and Highland traditions in military regiments.

Through travelling exhibitions from other institutions, the Museum brought its visitors works of art and photography, compelling human-interest stories, and fascinating glimpses into our shared history through archival collections.

Both Museums continue to engage visitors across Canada through informative web content and an active social media presence through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Virtual Museum of Canada presents unique stories from regional museums and historical societies.

Number of special exhibitions that add community perspective to the national narrative
Result ▲ 2
Target 1
2017–18 Result 17
The Museum presented two temporary exhibitions that added community perspective to the national narrative, doubling its annual target. The reduced target compared to 2017–18 is due to the fact that the indicator was reviewed, and results will no longer include in-house temporary exhibitions that add community perspectives in order to better reflect the Museum’s role in providing venues for local or regional museums. The Museum of History presented Notman, Visionary Photographer, an exhibition developed by the McCord Museum that pays tribute to the 19th-century Montréal photographer’s prolific oeuvre and innovative photographic techniques. The annual target was exceeded as the War Museum was able to host The Great War in Colour – A New Look at Canada’s First World War Effort, 1914–1918, organized by the Vimy Foundation. The exhibition presented over 60 photographs from the First World War, colourized for the first time, bringing Canada’s war contributions to life.
Photographs from the First World War, colourized for the first time.

The Great War in Colour – A New Look at Canada’s First World War Effort, 1914–1918

Making Connections in an Online World

The Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum are highly active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Whether promoting upcoming events or providing inside information on exhibitions and programming, the Museum’s social media channels remain one of the most effective ways of reaching today’s audiences.

Canadian Museum of History

During the year in review, the Canadian Museum of History’s social media content was viewed close to 19 million times by followers worldwide. Users interacted with Museum of History content approximately 141,000 times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Canadian Museum of History’s largest social media audience comes from Twitter, which grew steadily throughout the year from 78,791 to 86,686, or an increase of 10.02 percent. On the Museum of History’s Facebook page, followers grew by 3,192 to a total 40,185, or an increase of 8.62 percent.

Facebook remains the most effective avenue for event promotion, and digital marketing for corporate campaigns, such as memberships and exhibitions. More than 50 percent of the Museum’s reach was earned by Facebook alone. Instagram is the Museum’s smallest but fastest-growing feed, growing from 4,048 to 6,137 this fiscal year, for an increase of 52 percent.

Across its channels, the Canadian Museum of History has gained 13,175 followers this fiscal year, representing a 10.5 percent increase. This is not only above industry standards, but also exceeded last year’s growth of 3,021 followers (2.7 percent) by a significant margin.

Social media remains a key promotional tool for exhibitions and collections. This year, the Canadian Museum of History produced engaging social media content for three major exhibitions, as well as two exhibitions in partnership with other institutions. Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition engaged 43,000 through 31 posts. Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour engaged 212,000 through more than 100 posts. Notman, Visionary Photographer featured more than 50 posts, including one photograph that earned a Museum record of 603 likes on Instagram. In addition, important Museum collections have been featured on social media, including the Harbinson Collection, the Ultimate Leafs Fan Collection, the Stewart Decoy Collection, and news of the Hess Collection.

Programming and events are also widely promoted on social media. Information was shared on key series such as A Taste of History and Awesome Sundays, as well as annual events such as National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Museum’s Christmas Market. In addition, special events showcasing specific projects and acquisitions are shared online, including announcement of the Canadian Children’s Museum renewal project, a theatrical event for Black History Month, and a ceremony celebrating the acquisition of artifacts from Ultimate Fighting Champion Georges St-Pierre.

Indigenous artists.

The official opening of the Death in the Ice Special Exhibition

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum’s social media content was viewed approximately 12 million times worldwide, and users engaged with the Museum’s content approximately 275,000 times on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The War Museum’s Twitter audience is stable, and growing slowly, reaching 132,651 followers by the end of the fiscal year. Facebook is also growing, gaining 3,242 followers, for a total of 32,351 at the end of the year. This is an increase of 11 percent, exceeding expectations. On Instagram, the Museum gained 1,532 followers for a total of 3,354 — or an astonishing growth rate of 84 percent. The Museum is on track to continue similar Instagram growth in the new fiscal year. Across all platforms, the Museum gained 5,093 followers, for a 3.1 percent increase, consistent with trends from previous years.

Exhibition promotion via social media has been particularly successful this fiscal year. Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days featured 100 posts for each of the final days of the conflict, and the campaign’s content was viewed approximately 1,800,000 times. Users interacted with the content around 45,700 times, with close to 36,700 individual users. In addition, the Museum gained 2,291 followers across all platforms during the campaign. Other campaign highlights include a Facebook video on Sir Arthur Currie that reached more than 65,000 people with close to 10,000 views, and a high quantity of entries and comments for a related social media giveaway contest.

Also popular in terms of exhibition promotion was the social media campaign for The Wounded, which generated considerable engagement, and remained high at the end of the fiscal year. Many of the posts featuring individual images from the exhibition generated a significant number of likes and other strong reactions, as well as numerous comments and shares.

A number of key collections-related posts also generated much online interest, including announcement of the acquisitions of the Robert Hill Hanna and David Vivian Currie Victoria Cross medal sets, and the touching story of the Newfoundland dog, Gander — the only Canadian animal ever to receive the Dickin Medal for animal gallantry.

The Museum promotes key events through social media as well, including conferences, lectures, anniversaries and commemorations. Highlights this year included the unveiling of displays on the First Special Service Force (FSSF), also known as “The Devil’s Brigade” and Operation Harpoon during the war in Afghanistan.

Virtual Museum of Canada

The Virtual Museum of Canada displays compelling stories from museums across the country. Featuring virtual exhibitions produced by historical societies, community organizations and small museums, the Virtual Museum of Canada serves as a platform for unique Canadian content, making it accessible to audiences worldwide.

This initiative supports projects from museums of all sizes, with funding available for successful submissions. Planning also began this year for a new funding and submission structure, to be rolled out in the upcoming fiscal year.

Presented in a range of styles, the exhibitions include small-town histories, cultural traditions, and explorations of local landmarks and institutions. Projects generally fall into one of two categories: Canadian history, heritage and culture; or Community Stories, in which museums and heritage organizations work with local communities to share important regional history.

During this past fiscal year, 23 new online exhibitions were added to the platform, on topics as diverse as Chilliwack’s Chinatowns, the main street shops of Windsor, Newfoundland, the churches of Vaudreuil-Soulanges in the province of Quebec, and photo stories created in the mid-20th century by the National Film Board of Canada.

Partnering with Indigenous Peoples

Interns at the RBC Indigenous Internship Program

Interns at the RBC Indigenous Internship Program, who offers professional and technical training for First People, Métis and Inuit participants.

A primary focus of the Canadian Museum of History is to nurture and strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Elders and other community leaders often provide advice and guidance regarding the presentation of artifacts and other Indigenous content, informing how Indigenous stories—past and present—are reflected at the Museum.

In addition, both Museums continue to work with Indigenous communities on the repatriation of sacred objects and human remains in the Museum’s collections. Work continues on repatriation requests from British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

The History Museum is also playing a leading role in the COASTAL project in Nova Scotia. This project seeks to assess, study and potentially remediate historical Mi’kmaq sites in coastal areas, before they are lost forever. Community engagement has been key to the success of this project to date and includes the training and employment of Indigenous students and researchers. This work will also be reflected in an upcoming volume in the corporation’s Mercury Series, which is published in partnership with the University of Ottawa Press.

The National Capital Commission closed Victoria Island last year to complete environmental remediation work, and the Museum of History is working towards a partnership to host Indigenous Experiences as a pilot program for the summer of 2019, with a possibility of renewal for two additional years. Indigenous Experiences is offering traditional music and dance performances, storytelling, displays and crafts, as well as special seasonal events and programs. This would be a great addition for visitors who would explore Indigenous culture firsthand, near a site once used as both a trading post and a place of friendship and celebration.

The RBC Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practises) remains a key initiative in training Indigenous individuals to steward their own heritage for future generations. During a four-month internship, participants work in various areas of museum operations, from communications to conservation.

To date, more than a hundred participants from 40 Indigenous communities across the country have successfully completed the program, either enhancing their existing skills or acquiring new ones. Many of the program’s graduates have developed museums and other cultural initiatives within their home communities, while others have taken up positions at some of North America’s best-known institutions.

Media Highlights

Georges St-Pierre

The announcement of the acquisition of Georges St-Pierre’s 2009 UFC 94 title belt reached millions of people in Canada

Both Museums generated a great deal of media coverage, due to fascinating exhibitions, engaging programs and as well as unique artifacts acquired by both institutions over the course of the year. 4,583 news items were published or broadcast over the year, reaching over 248,600,000 persons during that span.

For example, the acquisition of a unique piece of Canadian sports history: martial arts legend George St-Pierre’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title belt generated over 300 articles, with a reach over 15 million of readers and viewers alone.

Museum curators took part in a number of interviews intended for international audiences; an episode from the popular show American Viking was set at the Canadian Museum of History, in December 2018, and broadcast on the Science Channel in the United States of America in January 2019. It featured a Museum curator talking about the Viking presence in North American soil. An interview about the Franklin exhibition was also conducted and broadcast in American-show Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel, in the fall of 2018.

The display of Victoria Crosses from the Battle of Hill 70 reached more than 3 million in views and was featured on the front cover of the Ottawa Citizen. Also, among this year’s highlights was a prestigious BBC Reith Lecture presented at the War Museum featuring author and historian Margaret MacMillan. This live-to-tape event was hosted by British broadcast journalist Anita Anand, was attended by approximately 400 guests and was available to international audiences on BBC’s Radio 4.

Develop a collection that best reflects Canada’s history and distinctiveness


  • Ensure that the Museum’s acquisition strategies are focused on the collection of objects of national significance.
  • Expand efforts to acquire objects by cultivating relationships with collectors and by actively pursuing donations.
  • Position the Museum as the national repository of objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history.


Museums are defined by the content, breadth and value of their collections. Guided by a new Collection Plan established during the previous fiscal year, both the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum continue to acquire objects of national value and importance.

Key acquisitions over the past year have included two Victoria Cross medal sets from the First World War, the Margaret Hess collection of Inuit art, and objects relating to the career of homegrown martial arts champion, Georges St-Pierre. Many acquisitions made throughout the year are the result of carefully cultivated relationships with collectors and potential donors, as well as partnerships with like-minded institutions, particularly in relation to objects of national importance.

Through the continued hard work and diligence of staff and the Board of Trustees, the Museum of History and War Museum have maintained their position as the primary national repositories for Canada’s material culture and human and military history.

Nationally significant acquisitions that reflect Canadian history
Because the timing of acquisitions is difficult to predict, the Museum no longer set formal quarterly targets for acquisitions. Acquisitions are reported on quarterly through the Chief executive officer’s Report to the Board of Trustees.

Seeking Indigenous Stories

In July 2018, the Museum of History launched a website inviting people to share the stories of members of Indigenous communities who had travelled abroad over the centuries. The stories that the Museum is collecting will eventually form the basis of Indigenous Stories Beyond Borders (working title), an exhibition scheduled to open in 2021.

By shining a light on individuals and groups that have travelled the world as diplomats, warriors/soldiers, performers, artists, athletes or scholars, the collected stories will contribute to the exhibition, which will explore how Indigenous Peoples have asserted, and continue to assert, their sovereignty and identities beyond Canada’s borders.

The exhibition will look at various types of stories, including the tragedy of people taken captive and displayed overseas as “New World curiosities.” Other themes will examine the journeys of Indigenous leaders who crossed an ocean to assert their people’s rights. Equally important are the stories of today’s artists, writers, musicians, politicians, healers and Elders whose worldview has had an impact beyond borders.

People have been invited to take part and share their stories through the Indigenous Stories website, with the review of submissions to begin in the coming fiscal year.

Collection Development Plan

Launched during the previous fiscal year, the Collections Development Plan will continue to guide acquisitions at both Museums over a ten-year period.

Establishing priorities for the development of new collections and the enrichment of existing collections, the plan lays out several guiding principles: ensure the ongoing preservation of collections, build knowledge associated with the collections, maintain accessibility to the collection, and ensure that ethical principles are upheld. This new vision also accommodates issues such as collection digitization and the repatriation of Indigenous material and includes guidelines to help determine acquisition priorities.

A Hero of the Great War

Victoria Crosses awarded to David Currie and Robert Hill Hanna

Victoria Crosses awarded to David Currie and Robert Hill Hanna

David Currie’s Victoria Cross

Lieutenant-Colonel David Currie’s Victoria Cross in a display at the Canadian War Museum
Photo by William Kent

Among the most important acquisitions this past fiscal year was the Victoria Cross medal set awarded to Lieutenant Robert Hill Hanna for his actions during the Battle of Hill 70. On August 21, 1917, Hanna took charge of his company of the 29th battalion, after all commanding officers had been killed or wounded. Hanna mustered the survivors for a fourth and final assault, rushing a German machine-gun nest and knocking it out. Unlike many Victoria Cross recipients, Hanna survived the war and died in British Columbia in 1967, at the age of 79.

The Robert Hill Hanna Victoria Cross medal set was acquired with the generous support of philanthropist Cyril Woods through the Hill 70 Memorial Project, and with the assistance of the Museums’ National Collection Fund. With this acquisition, the War Museum is now home to four of the six Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians for actions at Hill 70, and 39 of the 99 Victoria Crosses presented to Canadians since the award’s inception. The Museum has officially unveiled a display of the Hill 70 Victoria Cross medal sets in March 2019.

The Canadian War announce its acquisition of the Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Robert Hill Hanna in November 2018

A Canadian Sports Hero

In January 2019, the Museum of History acquired a unique piece of Canadian sports history: the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title belt won by mixed martial arts legend Georges St-Pierre in 2009, along a pair of his gloves and shorts.

A two-time former UFC Welterweight Champion and one-time Middleweight Champion, St-Pierre is the most successful Canadian ever to compete in mixed martial arts (MMA), and is recognized as one of the world’s best MMA fighters.

Mixed martial arts legend Georges St Pierre’s 2009 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 94 title belt, along with a pair of shorts and gloves that he wore

Showcasing and Sharing Key Acquisitions

The Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum often build displays and exhibitions around important acquisitions. Over the past year, these have included:

Canadian Museum of History

Dispatch box

Dispatch box originally owned by Joseph Bourret, who played a prominent political and social role in Canada during the Union period (1840–1867)

  • Dispatch box originally owned by Joseph Bourret, who played a prominent political and social role in Canada during the Union period (1840–1867).
  • Three stereos by Clairtone Sound Corporation, Toronto, which established an international reputation for stereo and cabinetry design in the 1960s.
  • Sculptural installation by Mi’kmaw artist Ursula Johnson of a Bench brand-style jacket constructed from yellow and silver birch bark, black ash ribbon and paper. The jacket is an ode to prominent contemporary Cree artist Kent Monkman.
  • A collection of 128 digital colour photographs by Stephanie Colvey, documenting the arrival of Syrian refugees to the Montréal region.
  • Material relating to the 2017 Women’s March, including hats, signs and T-shirts
  • Two signed fight contracts and programs promoting a match between Canadian George Chuvalo and Mohammed Ali in 1972, providing a complete story of the 1972 fight and including a pre-match program with interviews and profiles of both boxers.

Canadian War Museum

  • Items and uniforms from the career of Major-General (Ret’d) Lewis MacKenzie, including items related to his role as Chief of Staff of UNPROFOR during the opening months of the Bosnian War.
  • Four paintings by Lt. Col. David Currie, VC, donated by his widow, showing the action for which Currie was awarded the Victoria Cross on August 20, 1944.
  • A 14-karat Waltham dedication pocket watch given to Victoria Cross recipient Captain John “Jock” MacGregor by the City of Prince Rupert, B.C., on May 11, 1919.

In addition to conserving, studying and interpreting new acquisitions, both Museums make acquisitions available to visitors and researchers through programming, exhibitions and displays, as well as through online digital records. These combined efforts continue to cement the Museum’s reputation as trustworthy repository and interpreter of Canada’s material culture.

Engage dynamic partnerships and networks across Canada and internationally for mutual benefit


  • Build upon the success of the collaborative approach with Indigenous communities that led to the Canadian History Hall.
  • Initiate or participate in partnerships with like-minded institutions, nationally and internationally.
  • Continue to establish and build upon international partnerships to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and cultures.


Over the past fiscal year, both Museums have continued to pursue and maintain important networks and partnerships across the country and around the world. Key international exhibition partnerships included collaboration with the British Museum in London on Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour at the Canadian Museum of History, and with Contemporaneo Progetti and the Museo Stibbert on Armour at the Canadian War Museum.

Closer to home, Canadian partnerships included the War Museum’s partnerships with the War Amps of Canada on Resilience – The War Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, 1914–1918 and with Legion Magazine on The Wounded. In a similar vein, the Museum of History partnered with Library and Archives Canada on A Little History, and with the McCord Museum on Notman, Visionary Photographer.

In addition, both Museums partnered with various organizations on special events and other programming, including a theatrical presentation for Black History Month, Hot Docs screenings, and a conference exploring the social and military aftermath of the First World War.

Together, partnerships like these create important institutional and community ties, while also bringing visitors the best in exhibitions and programming from across Canada and around the world.

Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, developed in partnership with Parks Canada Agency and with the National Maritime Museum (London, United Kingdom), and in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust

Number of partnerships and collaborations initiated
Result 78 ▲
Target 44
2017−18 Result 53

The Museum is extremely active in terms of partnerships and collaborations, with 78 partnerships and collaborations over the course of 2018–19. This annual result exceeded the annual target of 44 partnerships and collaborations by 77 percent and exceeded last year’s result by 47 percent. The Canadian Museum of History partnered with the Department of Canadian Heritage to deliver programming for Canada Day, Winterlude (including a public pow-wow and an LGBTQ gala), and Flag Day. Other partnership events included a sold-out Walrus Talk on The Indigenous City, Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Trailblazing Women, an evening of storytelling to celebrate Women’s History Month, and a reception and lecture on Diversity in Canada: What’s Next?, co-hosted with the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy. At the Canadian War Museum, some of the most notable partnerships were commemorations of the centenary of the First World War, including the launch of The World Remembers 2018, with R. H. Thompson, and participation in the 100th anniversary events hosted by the Ville de Mons, Belgium in November 2018. Other partnership events included National Holocaust Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day (commemorating the Gallipoli campaign), and a number of wreath-laying ceremonies, with countries including Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In addition, both Museums established partnerships relating to exhibitions, programs and research: for example, the Museum of History  entered into an agreement with the University of Alberta, Memorial University and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to establish the Cultures of Sound Network, which will enable these organizations to share resources and develop projects in the areas of music and sound.

Mutual Benefit Through Partnerships and Events

Over the past year, both the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum remained highly active in the area of partnerships and collaborations, more than doubling quarterly targets.

They have also benefitted considerably from partnerships with organizations at the regional, national and international levels. In addition to high-level exhibitions and presenting partnerships, the Museum is able to expand its offerings by working in association with established groups.

Key partnerships in 2018–2019 included:

Canadian Museum of History

Figure of a Knight (1375–1425)

Figure of a Knight (1375–1425), England, from Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour, presented in partnership with The British Museum

  • Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour featured iconic works of art and artifacts from one of the most interesting periods in human history. The exhibition was presented in collaboration with the British Museum in London, with adaptations by the Museum of History.
  • Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Exhibition, which is currently touring the United States, has been an outstanding success for the Museum of History. The exhibition was developed in partnership with the National Maritime Museum in London, England, Parks Canada, the Inuit Heritage Trust, and the Government of Nunavut.
  • The RBC Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practises) celebrated its 25th anniversary in April 2018. This enduring and rewarding partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada provides professional and technical training in museum practises to Indigenous interns from across the country.
  • The Canadian History Hall celebrated its first year in July 2018. The Hall has benefitted considerably from multiple partnerships with foundations, cultural organizations, and Indigenous communities.
  • The exhibition Notman, Visionary Photographer, which opened in November 2018, was a partnership with the McCord Museum, home to an outstanding collection of images by this successful 19th-century Canadian entrepreneur.
  • Treasures from Library and Archives Canada: A Little History is the second exhibition in a five-exhibition partnership with Library and Archives Canada, and enjoyed additional support from Arthur B. C. Drache, C. M., Q.C. and Judy Young Drache.

Canadian War Museum

  • Armour explored protective gear, from Renaissance armour to the suit worn by Iron Man, in an exhibition developed by Contemporanea Progetti in collaboration with the Museo Stibbert (Florence, Italy) and the Canadian War Museum.
  • Operation Veteran welcomed 200 students to Ottawa for Remembrance Day. The students represented 22 schools across the country, each of which had raised funds in support of this program, which provides free meals and parking to veterans and serving military personnel.
  • The Wounded explored the visible and invisible scars of modern conflict and was presented in partnership with Legion Magazine.
  • The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation presented the War Museum with $300,000 in support of a new exhibition on the art of Sir Alfred Munnings, developed in collaboration with the Munnings Art Museum in England.
  • Louis – Ship of Fate was produced by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a part of the Nova Scotia Museum, in collaboration with the Atlantic Jewish Council and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Partnership and Special Events

National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History

  • Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Trailblazing Women was an evening of storytelling in celebration of Women’s History Month, hosted by Charlotte Gray and presented in partnership with Historica Canada.
  • Diversity in Canada: What’s Next? was a reception and lecture co-hosted with the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy.
  • A citizenship ceremony and roundtable discussion were presented in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
    The Museum of History signed a contract with Douglas Cardinal Architect Inc. for the upcoming exhibition UNCEDED – Voices of the Land, and the War Museum worked with the Vimy Foundation to bring The Great War in Colour to the Museum.

In addition to partnering with Canadian Heritage and other government departments on key events such as a G7 Sherpa Dinner and Reception, press conferences, a Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner, the Canadian Museum of History was the venue for celebrations surrounding National Indigenous Day with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

Canadian War Museum

  • An Order of Military Merit Medals ceremony and reception was presented in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces and Rideau Hall.
  • A Natural Resources Canada press conference was held to launch Canada’s Commemorative Map.

The Canadian War Museum also continues to host key anniversary events such as National Holocaust Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day and the Battle of the Atlantic Gala Dinner.

The War Museum also holds numerous events during Remembrance Week in November each year. This year’s Remembrance Week activities included the following:

  • November 3, 2018: The Eleventh Hour was a commemorative concert sponsored by the Friends of the Canadian War Museum. This new event was attended by approximately 350 people.
  • November 5, 2018: The City of Ottawa and Veterans Affairs Canada held a Candlelight Tribute for Veterans, attended by approximately 275 people. Guests at this recurring event included Mayor Jim Watson; The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P., Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; and Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, C.M.M., M.S.M., C.D., Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.
  • November 6, 2018: The Museum hosted this year’s Canadian Armed Forces and Rideau Hall Order of Military Merit Medals Ceremony and Reception with the Governor General. This new event welcomed approximately 300 guests.
  • November 10, 2018: An event was held with Royal Canadian Legion Silver Cross Mother Ms. Anita Cenerini, along with youth representatives, the winners of the Legion’s Senior Poster and Literary Contests, and Cadets of the Year. This recurring event was attended by several people.
  • November 11, 2018: The Museum’s Annual Memorial Hall Remembrance Day Ceremony welcomed approximately 70 members of the public. Special guests included Giovanna (Jeanne) Mancini (née) Ravenda, born in Montréal on Monday, November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.; and centenarian Percy “Dan” Danby, who served in the Royal Navy for 12 years and the Royal Canadian Navy for 18 years, with wartime service on the Narvik, HMS Hotspur (which shadowed the Bismarck) and HMS Sheffield.
Remembrance Day Ceremony

Remembrance Day Ceremony held at the Canadian War Museum

Hot Docs

The Canadian War Museum was proud to partner this year with Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, which features cutting-edge films from across Canada and around the world. Each screening was followed by a session exploring the film’s themes, including a moderated discussion and Q&A with a special guest.

In February 2019, On Her Shoulders explored atrocities committed against the Yazidis in Iraq. In March, The Accountant of Auschwitz looked at the ongoing legacy of the Holocaust and continued efforts to bring war criminals to justice.

Award-winning play in commemoration of Black History Month from Nova Scotia’s Voices Black Theatre Ensemble

Black History Month

Each year, the Canadian Museum of History marks Black History Month with special programming. This year’s commemorations included the groundbreaking play, Once: Africville Stories. Produced by the Voices Black Theatre Ensemble of Nova Scotia, the performance gave voice to the people of Halifax’s Africville, and the loss of their community when the neighbourhood was razed in the 1960s.

Presented with support from Arthur B. C. Drache and Judy Young Drache, the play offered an inside look at the diaspora of a tight-knit community with roots dating back to the American War of Independence.

Canada 1919: A Country Shaped by War

This international conference featured some of the world’s top military historians, in an exploration of the aftermath of what was once called “the war to end all wars.” Presented over three days in January 2019, the conference included lectures on the Ottoman Empire, the roles played by Britain and France during the conflict, the post-war reintegration of veterans, and the social impact of war on combatants and civilians alike.

Canadian author and historian Margaret MacMillan delivered the opening keynote address on the perilous transition from war to peace. The conference was well attended throughout, and tickets for Margaret MacMillan’s address quickly sold out.

Taking the Show on the Road

This past year, 14 exhibitions travelled to 25 venues. All told, they were seen by thousands of visitors in communities across the country, in Great Britain and in France.

Number of new openings for travelling exhibitions that connect Canadians to their history
Result 25 ▼
Target 37
2017−18 Result 25

The Museum opened 25 travelling exhibitions at venues across the country and internationally and remains the largest producer of travelling exhibitions in the country. The most popular exhibitions were Kids Celebrate!, Terry Fox – Running to the Heart of Canada and Hockey. Lower than expected results in the first two quarters indicated that the annual target of 37 would most likely not be achieved. Four venues for Deadly Skies – Air War 1914–1918 were anticipated, but with no bookings, the exhibition was removed from the touring offer. Overall, the number of travelling exhibitions was the same as in the previous fiscal year. The Museum continues to promote its travelling exhibitions at museum conferences and through its networks. The target for the 2019–2020 fiscal year has been adjusted to best reflect demand.

Hill 70 Display

Fought between the Canadian Corps and German forces from August 15 to 25, 2017, the Battle of Hill 70 involved fierce combat around Lens, France. By the time the action was over, there were somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 German casualties, and 3,000 Canadian casualties. Six of Canada’s 99 Victoria Crosses from all conflicts were earned at Hill 70.

The Canadian War Museum now has four of the six Victoria Cross Medal sets from the Battle of Hill 70. On March 27, 2019 a display featuring biographies firsthand accounts, photographs and the Victoria Cross medal sets of all six recipients opened to the public Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour.

Number of projects initiated through the History Museums Network
Result 9 ▲
Target 10
2017−18 Result 7

Over the course of 2018–19, nine projects were initiated through the History Museums Network, rather than ten as targeted. While the target was not quite met, this was more than the previous year, when seven projects were initiated. The Museum worked within its network to organize a touring program with Lady Carnarvon of Highclere Castle and to secure venues for UNCEDED – Voices of the Land. In the area of conservation, the Museum collaborated with Library and Archives Canada to reunite fragments of a paper note associated with the Franklin Expedition that had been separated and were held by the two respective organizations.

The History Museums Network

This year, the Canadian Museum of History initiated discussions with Network members regarding a touring program with the 8th Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle in the spring of 2019, inviting participants to learn about some of the high-profile Canadians who were guests at the Castle and its connection to Canada’s Confederation. The Museum of History also entered into discussions with Network members regarding UNCEDED – Voices of the Land.

A meeting of History Museums Network was prepared for April 2019 and will be held within the context of the annual conference of the Canadian Museums Association.


Representatives from the Museum of History made a high-level presentation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-391, a new piece of legislation relating to the repatriation of museological collections. The Museum’s leadership in this kind of principled engagement with Indigenous communities was highlighted during the hearing.

The Museum based its presentation on principles enshrined in the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Museum’s position is that cooperative and mutually beneficial projects build strong and positive relationships with Indigenous communities, in addition to sharing knowledge and expertise.

The Museum has been actively involved in repatriation efforts for four decades. Beginning in the early 1990s, the repatriation of objects in the national collection was also made part of certain treaty negotiations. While other federal departments are represented by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada as their negotiator, the Museum represents itself at the treaty table, and is guided by its own repatriation policy.

Special Celebrations

The LeBreton Gallery is turning into a Second World War era dance hall once a year

Once again, the Museum of History partnered with Canadian Heritage, hosting Canada Day activities as one of the official regional sites. Thousands of people were welcomed to the Museum on Canada Day, which also marked the first anniversary of the Canadian History Hall.

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 Museum also played host to multiple events on-site, including 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.

The Museum of History also welcomed the Casino du Lac Leamy’s Sound of Light, from August 4 to 18, featuring this time four countries in competition for the Zeus Trophy, awarded for best pyrotechnical performance. Summer ended with the Riverside Festival, the very first festival devoted exclusively to electronic music, in September. The 2018 Christmas Market, an event that has been held at the Museum of History since 2014, featuring the work of local artisans was again a strong draw for audiences.

The Museum of History also hosted a Trade Minister’s Dinner for trade ministers and senior ministers from 13 countries. In addition, the Museum hosted a citizenship ceremony and roundtable discussion in its Grand Hall, in association with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

The War Museum continues to host key Remembrance events in association with the Royal Canadian Legion, the City of Ottawa and the Friends of the Canadian War Museum. The Museum also hosted the second annual Stursberg Lecture in partnership with Carleton University, the Annual CDS Foreign Service Attaché reception with DND and continues to partner with the Canadian Forces for the send-off of the Nijmegen Marchers and the Army Cadet League for their Summer Program each year.

Ensure that the Museum has the financial resources to carry out its mandate


  • 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.


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 Museum’s 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)
Result ▲ $17,862
Target $17,137
2017–18 Result $20,000
The Museum generated $17,900,00 in 2018–19, exceeding the annual target by 4 percent. Boutique sales, facility rentals, and parking revenues generally exceeded the targets, but food sales were below target, due to a smaller number of large catered events. Revenues were 11 percent lower than in 2017–18, which is consistent with the lower attendance levels experienced in 2018–19 compared to the previous year.
Dollar value of fundraising activities (in ‘000s)
Result ▲ $3,390
Target $2,500
2017–18 Result $4,964
Fundraising (through the Annual Giving, Major Gifts, and Sponsorships streams) brought in more than $2,400,000 in 2018–2019, exceeding the annual target by 20 percent. This was mostly due to a very strong performance in the third quarter, when Major Gifts closed at 170 percent of the target —with six new gifts in support of a wide spectrum of programs and projects at both Museums. Several direct-giving appeals were launched, including the annual Remembrance Day appeal and an appeal in the support of the War Museum’s Supply Line educational program. The Museum also received significant artifact donations over the course of the year. Fundraising results were lower than those in 2017–2018, an exceptional year in which the Museum received significant support through the Canadian History Hall and First World War Centenary campaigns. The 2017–2018 result noted above also includes gifts in kind, whereas the 2018–2019 result does not.


In 2018–2019, annual giving set a record at $512,126. This amount is 18 percent higher than the previous fiscal year, and 108 percent of this year’s target. In addition, we exceeded our active donor target with 5,691 donors, or 126 percent of the forecast.

Major Gifts and Sponsors

In accordance with the Museum’s new three-year Development strategy, we set a target for the 2018–2019 fiscal year of $1,200,000 for new gifts closed. The gifts-closed target is a key measurement of success and helps in forecasting future revenues. We undertook 18 new major gift solicitations, totalling more than $2,300,00, and we have successfully closed more than $1,100,000 in new gifts, or 93 percent of the target.

Beaverbrook Supports War Artist Exhibition

The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation has presented the Canadian War Museum with a gift of $300,000 in support of a new exhibition on the art of Sir Alfred Munnings. The exhibition includes more than 40 works of art created by Munnings while he was an official war artist with Lord Beaverbrook’s Canadian War Memorials Fund.

The exhibition was presented at the National Army Museum in London from November 2018 to March 2019, and at the Munnings Art Museum in Dedham, England, from mid-March 2019 to September 2019. The exhibition will then tour Canada, including a presentation at the Canadian War Museum.

A Premium Contribution and a Lead-Example

The Museum deeply appreciates the leadership gift of $300,000 made by Margaret and Jim Fleck Family, in support of Museum programming. This outstanding contribution will be recognized officially during the next fiscal year.

Support for Canada’s Heroes

Private donations have played yet again a key role this year in the Canadian War Museum’s acquisition of Victoria Cross medal sets.

The Canadian War Museum announced in November 2018 the acquisition of the Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Robert Hill Hanna of B Company, 29th Infantry Battalion. He was decorated for his bravery and leadership during a key moment in the Battle of Hill 70 during the First World War. The medal was acquired with the generous support of Cyril Woods through the Hill 70 Memorial Project with a gift of $140,000, and with the assistance of the Museum’s National Collection Fund. Mr. Woods, an engaged philanthropist who supports many causes, is a founding donor of the Hill 70 Memorial Project.

The purchase of the David Vivian Currie Victoria Cross Medal set was announced on May 2018. The acquisition 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.

Strong Support to Supply Line

The Crabtree Foundation — a long-time Ottawa-based family foundation — agreed to a

gift of $100,000. This major contribution will support the Supply line, a travelling, hands-on education tool available for free to schools across Canada. The learning kit contains authentic and reproduction artifacts related to Canadian military history, along with everything that needs to lead engaging hands-on activities and lessons with students all across the country.

A Partnership Benefitting to Indigenous Museum Professionals

This year, the RBC Foundation renewed its support for the RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practises. 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. The program had 110 participants over the last 25 years.

A Couple With a Cause

Arthur Drache and Judy Young Drache gave their financial support of the joint Library and Archives Canada and Canadian Museum of History exhibition, entitled A Little History, with a generous donation of $50,000. They have supported a number of Museum exhibitions and events, including the recent presentation of the award-winning theatrical performance, Once: Africville Stories, which illuminates the razing of the African-Canadian neighbourhood in Halifax in the 1960s, for an amount of $31,000.

Artifact Donations

Artifact donations continue to enrich the Museum’s collections. A total of 202 new donations were made with combined value of $981,062.

Major Bequest of Inuit Art From Dr. Hess

Inuit Statue from the Margareth Hess Collection

The estate of Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess. Dr. Hess, a well-known art lover and adventurous spirit from Alberta, announced a donation of almost a thousand works of Inuit art, in February 2019.

The gift features more than 750 contemporary sculptures, 120 artworks on paper and 25 examples of historical material collected from approximately 30 northern communities — including influential artistic centres such as Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake) and Inujjuaq (Inujjuaq/Port Harrison), as well as Talurjuaq (Taloyoak/Spence Bay), Naujaat (Repulse Bay) and Kugluktuk (Coppermine). The works, in a variety of materials and styles, strengthen the Museum’s existing collections while offering new perspectives on Inuit Nunagat through the eyes of important first- and second-generation Inuit artists from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Poignant Images by Rita Leistner

A limited-edition photograph series, titled Levant Trilogy, by Canadian photographer Rita Leistner, was given to the War Museum. The art collection valued at $187,800 present bombed and sheltered landscape from Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, took between 2006 and 2016.

The Canadian Caper, Precious Footage Preserved

Of note, Les Harris’s donation initially made in 2017 was accepted and valued at more than $161,000. The “Canadian Caper,” was documented by Les Harris, a television producer who amassed a huge collection of raw footage and rare photographs. The Harris material — including film reels, audiotapes, videotapes and boxes of documents related to his TV productions — tells the story of a sensitive time in world history, with a distinctly Canadian angle.

Paintings Added to the War Museum Collection

The War Museum received an exquisite oil painting by Beverly Tosh, valued at $37,000. One Way Passage depicts the artist’s mother as young War bride travelling to New Zealand. Also, a painting by Robert W. Vanderhorst, that depicts Canada’s sacrifices and success in Afghanistan was donated to the Museum. The value is estimated at $36,960 and was donated by Luba Frastacky and Robert Vanderhorst.

In addition, the War Museum’s War Art collection has also increased in size with a donation of 28 Korean War paintings by Robert Venor. This donation was made by Mr. Venor, Thérèse Morange and Carl Bouchard, and is valued at $22,000.

Flintlock Pistols

The War Museum added to its collection of pistols with the donation by David Barr of flintlock pistols that belonged to a naval officer during the War of 1812, valued at $20,000.

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 Museum and with one another.

The Museum also maintains 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 monitored both admission and parking fees. Memberships are up as well, with a combined total of 18,806 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.

As the Museum of History facilities reach 30 years of age, repair costs are becoming critical and the possibility of system failures increases. The Museum continues to make the case for a more sustainable funding model that includes increased capital-repair funding and inflation protection as the preferred solution to its operating challenges.

Responding to Audit Recommendations

An Audit of Project Management Governance was undertaken and completed in 2018–2019. The objective of the audit was to provide assurance as to whether the appropriate systems, processes and controls for managing projects were in place to support the achievement of the Museum’s mandate. The scope of the audit included Canadian Museum of History’s project management systems, processes and controls, including their application. The Canadian History Hall project was used as a case study, but findings related to project management governance, processes and tools were identified for application to other projects and overall Museum practises. The audit was launched in June 2018 and the final report was presented in November 2018. The final report concluded that there was an effective governance structure and appropriate tone from the top to support project management and ensure the achievement of History Hall project objectives; that there were processes in place to identify and engage external stakeholders; and that there were project management processes and tools in place to support the achievement of Canadian History Hall Project objectives.

The Museum also made significant progress over the course of 2018–2019 in responding to audit encouragements and recommendations. At the beginning of 2018–2019, there were 14 number of encouragements and recommendations; by the end of the year, the number had been reduced to five. Completed recommendations related to the implementation of a corporate succession plan, the establishment of training and development plans for employees to facilitate professional development, and the development of a strategy to adopt a more proactive approach to recruitment and staff planning. In addition, several recommendations related to Collections Management were completed in 2018–2019.