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Annual Report 2019–2020


The Year in Review: Achievements

The Corporation’s activities and programs are guided by the following five strategic directions established by the Board of Trustees. These directions are intended to guide the Museums’ activities for the five-year period of 2015–2020.

Strategic Directions

  1. Establish the Museum as a hub of Canadian history for Canada and the world.
  2. Connect Canadians to their history and reflect this personal connection in all aspects of the Museum experience.
  3. Develop a collection that best reflects Canada’s history and distinctiveness.
  4. Engage in dynamic partnerships and networks across Canada and internationally for mutual benefit.
  5. Ensure that the Museum has the financial resources to carry out its mandate.

To deliver on these strategic directions and core responsibilities, the Museums continued to research key topics in Canadian history, pursued the acquisition of objects of national significance and presented exhibitions on themes of relevance to Museum visitors. Leveraging the opening of the Canadian History Hall, the Corporation strengthened related educational offerings, outreach activities and digital tools.

The Corporation continued to work with others — collaborating with Indigenous communities, bringing exhibitions that add community perspectives to the National Capital Region from other Canadian museums, and forging partnerships with like-minded institutions, nationally and internationally. Work to renew the Canadian Children’s Museum is ongoing, to ensure it is inclusive and accessible to all Canadians and visitors. Finally, innovative and responsible strategies were developed to diversify revenue streams and to cultivate, solicit and steward donors and Museum supporters.

A man and a boy

Memorial Hall

Delivering Results

The Corporation takes pride in its ability to plan and deliver results. Senior management implements a Performance Measurement Framework to carry out the Board’s strategic directions.

The framework features high-level priorities linked to core responsibilities and key performance indicators. These allow for monitoring and reporting to the Board and are included in the annual corporate planning exercise. The framework will be renewed to reflect the new strategic directions that have been developed to guide the Museum’s activities for the five-year period beginning in fiscal year 2020–2021.

Senior management sets targets that will allow the Museums to meet their strategic objectives and that are measurable on a quarterly basis.

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

Establishing the Museum as a Hub of Canadian History


  1. Leverage the opening of the Canadian History Hall and strengthen related educational offerings and outreach activities.
    The Canadian History Hall is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date on the history of Canada. It opened on July 1, 2017, to popular and critical acclaim. It is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the Museum, tracing the history of Canada and its people over some 15,000 years through multiple perspectives, including the integration of Indigenous history throughout the narrative. To fulfill its potential and maximize visitor engagement, the Museum is developing a robust suite of educational offerings and outreach activities, designed in different formats and aimed at different audiences. The Canadian Museum of History Learning Agenda is a five-year initiative designed to develop inquiry-based school encounters (both on-site and online) on a range of themes featured in the Hall.
  2. Three young boys assisted by an adult as they play with antique slide viewers

    Reimagining the Canadian Children’s Museum

  3. Conduct research and present exhibitions on key topics in Canadian history.
    Research and exhibition development are core corporate activities of the Museum, providing the foundation for collecting and preserving the national collections, while fostering the Museum’s role in helping Canadians understand their country’s history. New knowledge and perspectives generated by research are disseminated through a range of outputs, including exhibitions. A 10-year Research Strategy identifies guiding principles and nine main areas of activity. In addition to specific research projects, many of which are multi-year, the Museums undertake recurring research activities relating to acquisitions and the review of collections, as well as to treaty negotiation and repatriation.
  4. Complete and launch a renewed Canadian Children’s Museum.
    Renewal of the Canadian Children’s Museum was planned to take place over a three-year period, within the current gallery (approximately 14,000 square feet). A dynamic temporary offer has been designed to offset the period of closure. Consultation and engagement activities with the public and experts are ensuring support for the renewal, and are fostering innovative solutions and collaboration.

Indicators and Targets

The Corporation has developed three indicators that reflect areas of interest to the Board of Trustees, and that measure the achievement of this strategic direction.

On-site attendance (in ’000s)
On-site attendance measures the number of people who enter the buildings at the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum.
Result ● 1,452
Target 1,625
2018–2019 Result 1,673
The Museums attracted 1,452,000 visitors to their grounds in 2019–2020, which was 11% fewer than the annual target of 1,625,000. On-site attendance was impacted by spring flooding in the first quarter, a general decrease in tourism to the National Capital Region during the second quarter and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, annual events such as programming for Canada Day and for the Canada Army Run, held at the War Museum in September, attracted many visitors, as did group visits and rentals. On-site attendance at both Museums combined was 13% lower than the previous year.
Paid attendance (in ’000s)
Measures the number of visitors who purchase admission.
Result ▲ 638
Target 670
2018–2019 Result 702
The Museums welcomed a total of 638,000 paying visitors to the Museums, compared to its target of 670,000. This solid performance was driven by exhibitions such as Neanderthal and Highland Warriors. Paid attendance was lower than expected in the summer; the decrease was seen mostly in family and group sales, and also reflected lower numbers of international tourists to the National Capital Region. Family ticket sales at the Museum of History were boosted in the third and fourth quarters by two popular children’s exhibitions, Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood and Doc McStuffins. Paid attendance at both Museums combined was 9% lower than the previous year.
Number of key research projects that are progressing as planned or completed
Measures the progress of key research projects aligned with the Museum’s Research Strategy.
Result ▲ 54
Target 46
2018–2019 Result 47
The Museums were very active in the area of research, with 54 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 Museum of History summer fieldwork season was one of the busiest in the modern history of the Museum, with all archaeologists and ethnologists in the field, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Over the course of the year, major work was undertaken on upcoming exhibitions at both Museums, including exhibitions on children’s television, the experiences of Indigenous peoples abroad, civil liberties in Canada, and Canada and the Second World War. At the Museum of History, a number of repatriation and deaccession files were completed. The oral history project made good progress, with notable Canadians, including Karim Rashid, Monique Bégin and Sharon Firth, being interviewed. Museum curators and historians were also active in terms of public presentations and publications, with books published on Canadian women and the world wars, and on women and the search for global order.

Key Activities

Telling Canada’s Story

Since its opening on July 1, 2017, the Canadian History Hall has welcomed over 1 million visitors. Through a series of three chronologically and thematically organized galleries, the award-winning Hall explores the history of the territory now known as Canada, from time immemorial to the present day.

Designed to be updated as new information and scholarship comes to light, the Hall has been applauded for its challenging topics, as well as its seamless incorporation of the achievements and contributions of under-represented groups such as women and Indigenous peoples. During the year in review, minor adjustments and updates were made to several modules.

The Hall was the venue for many important partnership events and public programs this year, as well as the focus of presentations given to a number of organizations around the country. All such exposure helps to connect audiences to our country’s rich history.

Who, What, Where: The Importance of Research

Throughout the year, historians at both the Museum of History and the War Museum carry out extensive research on a variety of topics. Research is routinely undertaken in relation to potential acquisitions and publications, as well as in support of exhibitions, programming, educational initiatives, social media and special events.

Research may involve the study of a topic or collection, the gathering of oral histories, archaeological initiatives, and consultations with communities and individuals. During the year in review, staff at the Museum of History undertook research in advance of the acquisition of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour Collection, and interviewed individuals and groups who have had an impact on Canada today, including Syrian refugees.

Archaeological research included the COASTAL project, which studies the impact of coastal erosion of Indigenous sites in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as an ongoing study of Wally’s Beach in Alberta, which is the earliest known site of the butchering of Late Pleistocene species of horse and camel. Throughout the year, Museum of History researchers conducted fieldwork, research and interviews in nine provinces and two territories. In addition, research was undertaken to enhance North American content for the special exhibitions Neanderthal and Queens of Egypt.

Staff at the War Museum added a number of stories to the national oral history collection this year. Interviewees included a veteran of the Normandy campaign, veterans of the peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia, a tank troop sergeant in Afghanistan and a survivor of the federal government and Canadian Forces prosecution of LGBTQ+ people. Research was also undertaken in relation to exhibitions such as Highland Warriors and Invasion! Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, 1944; the new Second World War version of the Museum’s popular Supply Line school program; and publications, social media, lectures and other programming.

Early Learning for a New Generation
Young child wearing a white sweater, holding an adult’s hand, looking directly at camera

Planning continued for Reimagining the Canadian Children’s Museum

Having last been significantly updated 25 years ago, the Canadian Children’s Museum is now welcoming the children of its original visitors. In keeping with new theories about childhood education, and with advances in interactive exhibition technologies, the Children’s Museum is now being completely reimagined, so that it can continue to provide memorable experiences for new generations of Canadian families.

With public consultations beginning during the previous fiscal year, a two-day symposium in December 2019 attracted early learning and exhibition experts from around the world. Sessions during the Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums included topics such as “Designing Playful Museum Spaces,” “What Makes Playful Exhibition Experiences?” and “Circus Arts as a Means of Increasing Play.” The symposium was well attended by educators, scholars, exhibition designers, museologists and others.

Once the majority of the Children’s Museum space is under renovation, young visitors will still be able to have fun taking on the roles of police officer, florist, chef and more in the temporary City in Action space. Bringing together several of the most popular features of the former Children’s Museum, the City in Action will encourage creative thinking, problem-solving and cooperative play.

The closure of the Museums due to COVID-19 will have an impact on the schedule for the reimagined Children’s Museum, originally scheduled to open in December 2021. The renewal is currently on hold, and a revised schedule will be determined once new public health guidelines and safety regulations are available to inform further planning.

Connecting Canadians to Their History


  1. Develop exhibitions on themes of personal relevance to Museum visitors.
    At a time of accelerated social and technological change and an extremely competitive leisure landscape, museums are preoccupied, more than ever before, with the concept of relevance. The Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum seek to foster relevance not only in the choice of exhibition topics but also in how exhibitions are developed. Curators, creative-development specialists and scenographers look for innovative ways to offer participatory experiences and facilitate connection, so that new and broader audiences see themselves reflected and represented in Museum programs.
  2. A pipe band, wearing Scottish regalia, marching in two lines

    Opening ceremony for the exhibition Highland Warriors

  3. Bring exhibitions to the National Capital Region from Canadian museums, adding community perspectives to the national narrative.
    As national museums, the Museum of History and the War Museum are committed to giving audiences access to exhibitions from museums throughout the country. The Museums provide a stage to showcase content, knowledge and collections that add the perspectives of different communities — whether regional, social or cultural — to the national narrative.
  4. Continue to engage Museum visitors through projects such as the Virtual Museum of Canada and other digital tools.
    Digital tools and projects provide the Museums with valuable opportunities to extend their reach and enhance the museum experience. The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) investment program helps museums and heritage organizations throughout the country to share their stories and collections online through three investment streams. The small stream provides $15,000 and a template to build a Community Stories virtual exhibit; and the medium stream of $50,000 to $150,000 and large stream of $150,000 to $250,000 support the creation of online projects like virtual exhibits and tours, web-based games and applications, and educational resources. Program staff work closely with the organizations to support them in this work. VMC-funded projects are opportunities for museums and heritage organizations to reach and engage existing and new audiences and to build digital capacity. The VMC is evolving to be more responsive to the needs of its key stakeholders; its renewal involves a streamlined application process and a new brand and website. To ensure that the Museums are up to date in the digital realm, the Corporation has also established a Digital Technologies team, dedicated to developing digital experiences through every visitor touchpoint.

Indicators and Targets

The Corporation has developed two indicators that reflect areas of interest to the Board of Trustees, and that measure the achievement of this strategic direction.

Number of special exhibitions that add community perspective to the national narrative
Measures special exhibitions from other museums that enhance the Museums’ telling of Canadian history by contributing community or regional perspectives that help Canadians connect to their history.
Result ▲ 6
Target 3
2018–2019 Result 2
The Museums presented six special exhibitions that added community perspective to the national narrative, doubling the annual target and tripling the result from the previous year. These included Footprints – A Walk Through Generations, which opened at the Museum of History in June during National Indigenous History Month. The Museum was very proud to present this award-winning, community-driven exhibition, which was developed by the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute and explored the importance and meaning of walking in Cree culture. The Museum of History also hosted Jewish Journeys – Stories of Immigration From the Treasures of Library and Archives Canada, presenting Judaica from the holdings of the Jacob M. Lowy Collection, and UNCEDED – Voices of the Land, a groundbreaking multimedia installation exploring the Indigenous experience through the work of 18 Indigenous architects and designers. In addition, the War Museum presented The Canadian Forces Artists Program – Group 8, an exhibition of works created by the most recent group of civilian artists to deploy with the Canadian Forces.
Special Exhibitions *Attendance
Canadian Museum of History
May 17, 2019 to January 26, 2020
UNCEDED – Voices of the Land
May 3, 2019 to September 7, 2020
Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood – A Grr-ific Exhibit
September 28, 2019 to January 5, 2020
Fragments of Humanity – Archaeology in Quebec
June 18 to November 3, 2019
Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit
January 25 to May 18, 2020
Footprints – A Walk Through Generations
June 11 to November 3, 2019
Jewish Journeys – Stories of Immigration From the Treasures of Library and Archives Canada
May 9, 2019 to February 23, 2020
A Nation’s Calling Card
March 29, 2019 to March 29, 2020
Peskotomuhkatiyik Skutik
November 5, 2019 to April 1, 2020
Canadian War Museum
Highland Warriors
June 7, 2019 to January 12, 2020
The Canadian Forces Artists Program – Group 8
February 14 to May 18, 2020
The Wounded
February 15 to June 2, 2019
Invasion! Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, 1944
June 6, 2019 to March 29, 2020
Portraits of Courage: President George W. Bush’s Tribute to America’s Veterans
June 28 to September 3, 2019
World Press Photo – Exhibition 2019
July 19 to August 11, 2019
* Special exhibition attendance from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Numbers are not available for special displays.
Number of new openings for travelling exhibitions that connect Canadians to their history
Measures travelling exhibitions developed by the Museums that include Canadian content, are on a national tour, and are being presented in traditional museums or new types of venues.
Result ▲ 20
Target 18
2018–2019 Result 37
The Museums opened 20 new presentations of their travelling exhibitions at venues across the country. The most popular exhibitions were Hockey, which travelled to five different venues, and Enemy Aliens – Internment in Canada, 1914–1920, which travelled to three venues. The Museum presented five fewer travelling exhibitions than in 2018–2019, although it exceeded the annual target by two. The Museum continues to promote its travelling exhibitions at museum conferences and through its networks.
Map of Canada showing where travelling exhibitions were presented

Travelling Exhibitions, 2019–2020


Key Activities

Telling Our Stories: Presenting Meaningful Exhibitions

Exhibitions are the public face of the Museums’ activities, offering compelling and thought-provoking content, while impressing visitors with some of the world’s most iconic historical treasures. This year’s exhibitions at the Museum of History and the War Museum took visitors from the mysterious world of our prehistoric human cousins to the latest in Indigenous architecture, and from the searing battles of D-Day to military activity in Canada’s North today.

Many of the exhibitions are developed in-house; some are the result of fruitful partnerships and others are borrowed from organizations around the country and beyond. Topics are selected for their relevance to Canadians, educational value and popular appeal, and the choices have contributed significantly to high levels of attendance and positive reviews for both Museums.

In late spring, the Museum of History launched Neanderthal, originally produced by the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and adapted by the Museum of History to increase its relevance to North American visitors. Exploring the world of Neanderthals through their tools, clothing, adornments, structures and decorative art, the exhibition also examined the fossil record, scientific investigations and DNA analysis, and historical misrepresentations. This exhibition offered the largest collection of Neanderthal materials ever presented in North America. Incorporating interactives and interesting perspectives, such as a life-size sculpture of what a Neanderthal woman might look like in modern clothes, the exhibition offered a well-rounded look at these often-misunderstood hominids.

Also at the Museum of History, UNCEDED – Voices of the Land presented the work of 18 Indigenous architects from across North America in a breathtaking multimedia installation. Exploring innovative structures large and small, the exhibition offered visitors a compelling look at contemporary Indigenous architecture and architectural thought, along with timely lessons on how to work with the environment. This groundbreaking project was led by Douglas Cardinal, architect of record for the Museum of History, and was Canada’s submission to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Young children were treated to two exhibitions aiming to teach some important lessons and skills while at the same time bringing to life some favourite characters from children’s television. Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood – A Grr-ific Exhibit encouraged children to use their imaginations to transform their surroundings and solve problems, while Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit reminded children of the importance of health and wellness, as well as how to care for others.

Rounding out this year’s exhibitions at the Museum of History, Fragments of Humanity – Archaeology in Quebec, developed by Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, explored 50 years of archaeological discoveries in Quebec; Footprints – A Walk Through Generations, produced by the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, presented the evolution and significance of walking, through Cree stories, arts, technology and culture; and Jewish Journeys – Stories of Immigration From the Treasures of Library and Archives Canada looked at the development and rich history of Canada’s Jewish community.

A young woman standing behind a table shows a man a display of two swords, one of which she holds in her hands

Hands-on learning at the opening of the exhibition Highland Warriors

At the War Museum, Highland Warriors, developed by Nomad Exhibitions in collaboration with the War Museum and Glasgow Museums, transported visitors across time and space from the world of medieval Scottish soldiers to modern Highland regiments. Featuring medieval weaponry, traditional clothing, works of art and modern uniforms, this popular exhibition offered unique insight into the enduring mystique of Scottish soldiers, and why today’s elite regiments are so highly respected.

Marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Invasion! Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, 1944 paired 12 powerful black-and-white photographs of key events with reproduction objects, showcasing seven personal stories. The exhibition explored the lives of those who participated, the goals behind the attack and why D-Day remains important to Canadians.

As home to one of the finest collections of military art in the world, the War Museum often features exhibitions exploring the complex relationship between art and conflict. During the year in review, the War Museum presented four art-themed exhibitions. Developed in partnership with Legion Magazine, The Wounded featured 18 black-and-white portraits of Canadian men and women who served in Afghanistan, taken by photojournalist Stephen J. Thorne. The Canadian Forces Artists Program – Group 8 presented works by the most recent group of civilian artists to deploy with the Canadian Forces — this time entirely on Canadian soil.

Presented in association with the U.S. Embassy, Portraits of Courage: President George W. Bush’s Tribute to America’s Veterans featured 51 works by former President George W. Bush, painted in recognition of the sacrifice and courage of those who served in conflicts during his time as President. Rounding out the War Museum’s art-oriented exhibitions was this year’s World Press Photo exhibition, supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, presenting more than 150 large-format photographs reflecting current events, social issues and the environment.


From Here to There and Back Again: Travelling Exhibitions

The Museum of History and the War Museum prioritize making many of their exhibitions available to venues across Canada and internationally, reflecting their mandate to connect with Canadians regardless of where they live, and to introduce people around the world to the richness of Canadian history and culture. Some are full-size versions of the original exhibitions, adapted for travel; others are more compact displays to accommodate smaller venues.

During the year in review, seven Museum of History exhibitions were on tour. Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition presented the infamous mystery of this ill-fated expedition to audiences in Anchorage, Alaska; Snapshots of Canada, which shares photographs of compelling moments in Canada’s history, appeared in venues in Quebec and New Brunswick; a 2-D version of the popular Hockey exhibition was featured in numerous venues across New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia; Kids Celebrate! was on view in a trio of venues in Ontario, helping children discover the importance and diversity of celebrations in Canada; Lace Up! Canada’s Passion for Skating was presented at two Quebec museums; Picturing Arctic Modernity – North Baffin Drawings From 1964 was presented in Ontario; and The Ones We Met, exploring the role Inuit traditional knowledge played in unravelling the mystery of the Franklin Expedition, was presented in Quebec.

During the same period, five War Museum exhibitions were on tour. A 2-D version of Fighting in Flanders – Gas. Mud. Memory., which helps visitors learn about the experiences of Canadian soldiers in Belgium, was presented in Ontario and Alberta; Munnings – The War Years shared the wartime artwork of Sir Alfred Munnings and was presented in England and at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in New Brunswick; The Wounded, featuring the work of photojournalist Stephen J. Thorne, was on view in southern Ontario; Enemy Aliens – Internment in Canada, 1914–1920 was presented in Nova Scotia and Alberta; and World War Women, which focuses on the experiences of Canadian women during the two world wars, travelled to venues in Saskatchewan and Ontario. A version of this exhibition is also being presented at the Juno Beach Centre in France until the end of 2020.

History Comes Alive: Special Events and Cultural Programming

Throughout the year, the Museum of History and the War Museum offer a wide range of special programming, bringing history to life for audiences. Exhibition openings, guided tours, school programs, concerts, family activities, lectures and thematic evenings are just some of the ways in which both Museums connect with visitors.

An older woman smiling while leaning against a blue upholstered folding chair

Wanda Robson — sister of civil rights activist Viola Desmond — with seats from the Nova Scotia theatre where Ms. Desmond was arrested for sitting in a section designated for white patrons

Families enjoyed Indigenous programming for National Indigenous History Month (June), Awesome Sundays events with various exhibition-related themes, Culture Days, Halloween programming, holiday programming, a scavenger hunt and programming for Winterlude. Adults were treated to evening fare that included concerts, lectures and three instalments of the new An Evening With… series, which offers unique opportunities to hear about the life and work of notable Canadians. Featured guests this year included award-winning Wolastoq composer and operatic tenor Jeremy Dutcher and renowned wildlife photographer Michelle Valberg, as well as author and community educator Wanda Robson, the younger sister of Canadian civil rights activist Viola Desmond.

Other highlights at the Museum of History included a nearly sold-out afternoon tea with Lady Carnarvon, doyenne of Highclere Castle, the stately home featured in the series Downton Abbey and the site of a visit by Canada’s first Prime Minister. A series of wine-tasting evenings with historical and exhibition-related themes was equally popular, combining expertly paired food and drinks with presentations by Museum experts.

In addition, this year the Museum launched a school program on Residential Schools in Canada, which was created in consultation with survivors, the Legacy of Hope Foundation and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The Museum is currently in consultations with members of the Inuit community on another new school program.

The popular World at War lecture series featured “75 Years Ago: D-Day and the Battle of Normandy,” with War Museum historians Dr. Tim Cook and Dr. Jeff Noakes, in June, and “By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz,” with Holocaust survivor Dr. Max Eisen, in November. Both events were completely sold out.

Family programming this year revolved primarily around the Highland Warriors exhibition and included the ongoing Awesome Sundays programming and outdoor cinema nights.

In addition, the War Museum delivered another engaging and well-attended range of programs and activities marking Veterans’ Week and Remembrance Day. A major highlight was the Youth Remembrance Programming and Highlights Tour held on November 7, to which the Museum welcomed over 1,300 members of youth groups, including cadets, Girl Guides and Scouts.


Staying Connected: Outreach and Social Media

The World Wide Web officially turned 25 this fiscal year, as did the Canadian Museum of History website. When launched, the Museum’s website was one of the first of its kind in the world.

A black-and-white portrait of a man in a t-shirt, with facial scars and a missing eye

On social media: A photo of Captain Justin Brunelle, featured in the exhibition The Wounded
Photographed by Stephen J. Thorne in 2017. Courtesy of Stephen J. Thorne and Legion Magazine.

As competition has grown for visitor engagement online, the Museum of History and the War Museum are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to connect with their virtual audiences. In addition to maintaining an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, their websites offer a wide range of resources and tools, including robust collections access, articles, videos, games, educational resources and downloads, and a unique 360-degree tour of the popular Canadian History Hall.

During the past fiscal year, engagement for the Museum of History via social media included 88,427 followers on Twitter (0.1% increase), 56,614 on Facebook (28% increase) and 10,218 on Instagram (36% increase). In addition, the Museum’s website had 6,645,301 pageviews (4% increase).

Social media figures for the War Museum included 132,287 followers on Twitter (0.27% decrease), 41,888 on Facebook (25% increase) and 5,346 on Instagram (49% increase). In addition, the Museum’s website had 5,832,419 pageviews (6% increase).

Combined, the two Museums gained over 33,000 new followers across their platforms, representing an overall increase of 11%.

Notable social media posts from the Museum of History this year covered a broad range of topics such as the passing of Neil Peart, the drummer from Canadian rock band Rush. This widely shared post featured Peart’s own drum kit, which is part of the Museum’s collections. A post on the 90th anniversary of the Person’s Case was viewed 35,000 times on the Museum’s Facebook page, and a post featuring a visit to the Museum by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan received 12,000 views.

This year, the War Museum’s highest rate of engagement across all platforms came from a post about the Canadian Army’s first-ever battalion-level helicopter assault, which occurred on March 13, 2002. Engagement on posts connected to the exhibition The Wounded was very high overall, most notably a post featuring Captain Justin Brunelle’s portrait, which achieved over 17,000 engagements on Facebook and was seen by 65,000 people.

Social media remains a key tool for the Museums as they promote their initiatives and engage with audiences across the country and around the world.


Media Highlights

Traditional media also remains an important means of connecting with audiences. Through local, national and international newspaper articles, radio and television interviews, feature reports and more, both Museums continue to attract considerable attention through conventional outlets.

Traditional media resulted in 7,800 news items with an approximate reach of 132.8 million for the Museum of History, and 6,700 news items with an approximate reach of 171.6 million for the War Museum. Combined, the two Museums have experienced a 216.4% increase in news items, with a 23.4% increase in reach.

Notable items include a television report about UNCEDED – Voices of the Land on TV5Monde, which had an estimated reach of 10 million viewers. During this same quarter, an article in the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen on the Neanderthal exhibition reached 3 million readers, and the War Museum generated 754 mentions and a reach of 12 million for Highland Warriors and Invasion! through outlets as diverse as CTV National News, the Canadian Press and The New York Times.

A woman speaks to two teenage girls sitting in a classroom with a military helmet and pamphlets

The Canadian War Museum’s Supply Line Program in action

Later in the year, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN television and online) aired an interview related to the Museum of History’s presentation of the Footprints exhibition, with a combined reach of 14 million, and the War Museum’s launch of its Second World War Supply Line Discovery Boxes generated 197 articles and a reach of 50 million.

The Museums received considerable media coverage for a number of special events and partnerships of national importance this year. For the Museum of History, these included the tabling of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls during a ceremony in the Museum’s Grand Hall on May 30, 2019, as well as its partnering with APTN for the nationally broadcast concert and ceremony honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Museum was also the setting for the 2019 Federal Leaders’ Debates, which garnered extensive media coverage across the country. This event alone generated 1,770 news items that referred to the Museum.

The War Museum also hosted a number of important ceremonies this year in association with international partners, and these were prominently featured in media reports. They included the National Holocaust Remembrance ceremony in partnership with Yad Vashem, a ceremony for ANZAC Day, the start of the annual Nijmegen March, and a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

One date in particular elicited extensive media coverage for the War Museum. On June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, War Museum historians were involved in over 30 interviews and media events, in print, radio and television, at the local, national and international levels. Events such as these reinforce the Museum’s position as a hub of history and as a leader in connecting communities.

Sharing Stories and Experiences

The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) investment program, which is managed by the Museum of History, supports museums and heritage organizations across Canada in the development of bilingual online projects.

In 2019–2020, the VMC invested $2,411,820 in 27 projects, covering topics such as L. M. Montgomery’s manuscript for Anne of Green Gables, the legacy of Indian Hospitals in British Columbia and Alberta, and the history of Japanese Canadians. The program also invested in the development and launch of a trilingual (English/French/Inuktitut) online project and, at the request of one of its funded organizations, adapted its Community Stories template to accommodate a third language.

Progress on a multi-year renewal of the VMC program included piloting a new online application process and grant management system, and working on a revamped program identity and website. Consultation with the Canadian museum community also continued through regular calls with the executive directors of the provincial museum associations; conference presentations; and user testing of the new website.

At the end of the fiscal year, there were nearly 90 projects in development, representing large and small museums and heritage organizations from around the country.


The Museum of History and the War Museum produce both scholarly publications and souvenir catalogues for major exhibitions. This year’s titles were Neanderthal (May 2019) by staff curator Janet Young, published in English and French in support of the exhibition of the same name; Place-Making in the Pretty Harbour: The Archaeology of Port Joli, Nova Scotia (December 2019) by staff curator Matthew Betts, published in English only as part of the Museum’s scholarly Mercury Series; and Sharing Spaces: Essays in Honour of Sherry Olson (March 2020) by Robert Sweeny, in English only, also as part of the Mercury Series.

Museum experts also produced a number of blog posts to introduce audiences to the Corporation’s publications and their content.

Another bilingual publication, Pier 21: A History (Quai 21 : Une histoire), was due to be released in March 2020, but was deferred to a later date because of the closure of the Museums due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing a Collection That Reflects Canada’s History


  1. Ensure that the Museum’s acquisition strategies are focused on the collection of objects of national significance.
    The Collections Development Plan sets out a cohesive corporate vision to guide collection development and refinement at the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum for the period from 2016 to 2026. It establishes priorities for the development of new collections, while also enriching current collections and strengthening the national mandate of the Museums. Notably, the document introduces a new selection criterion: “national interest.” It also provides a review of the collections’ strengths and weaknesses, aligned with the Corporation’s Research Strategy, to guide new acquisition priorities.
  2. A black-and-white image of a woman in a long white robe holding a baby, while seated in a woven wicker chair

    Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana of the Netherlands at the Ottawa Civic Hospital on January 19, 1943

  3. Expand efforts to acquire objects by cultivating relationships with collectors and by actively pursuing donations.
    As part of their regular duties, curators and collections specialists research potential additions to the collections, and work to develop and maintain productive relationships with potential donors. Acquisitions may be made in various ways, including purchase, donation, bequest, transfer and fieldwork. Careful selection is essential, and potential acquisitions are assessed in relation to the Museum’s mandate and resources. Collection priorities reinforce research priorities set out in the Research Strategy.
  4. Position the Museums as the national repository of objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history.
    The Museum’s collections are an invaluable source of information for researchers, school groups, media and the general public, fostering a greater understanding of the complexity of the Canadian experience. The care taken in conservation, storage and security is combined with ensuring that collections remain accessible. The Museums work to make the collections known, through scholarly activities for the public, loans and new technologies. High-profile acquisitions are announced through media releases and may be featured on Museum blogs or in Museum displays.

Indicators and Targets

Because the timing of acquisitions is difficult to predict, the Museum no longer sets formal quarterly targets for acquisitions. However, acquisition highlights continue to be reported quarterly through the Chief Executive Officer’s Report to the Board of Trustees.

Key Activities


Collecting activities at both the Museum of History and the War Museum are guided by a 10-year Collections Development Plan, covering the period of 2016–2026. The plan sets priorities for the development of new collections and the enrichment of existing collections, through four guiding principles: ensure the ongoing preservation of collections; build knowledge associated with the collections; maintain accessibility to the collections; and ensure that ethical principles are upheld. Materials collected this year will enable the Museums to share a number of important Canadian stories, from the history of medical research and human rights, to the distinctiveness of Canadian design, to the legacies of a number of prominent figures from Canada’s military history.

  • Designed for Living
    This generous gift, presented to the Museum of History by the Design Exchange museum in Toronto, comprises 172 objects and related archival material. The Design Exchange Collection features iconic items of 20th and 21st century Canadian design, reflecting the diversity of manufacturing across the country, following the Second World War. The collection includes items related to Expo 67, pop culture and pioneering Canadian brands.
  • An Enduring Tradition
    Corn-husk dolls, a traditional symbol of the harvest, originated among the Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous cultures. Among the Haudenosaunee, corn was one of the “Three Sisters” — staple crops that included corn, squash and beans. This year, the Museum of History acquired three corn-husk dolls made by Six Nations artist and author Elizabeth Doxtater.
  • Reading and Writing in Braille
    This collection of 101 artifacts, presented to the Museum of History by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), features items used to teach Canadians to read and write in Braille, and highlights the important origins of this organization in supporting First World War soldiers who had impaired vision as a result of their service. A significant portion of the collection is of national significance; other items will be used for demonstrations and other Museum programs.
  • He Shoots, He Scores!
    Reflecting the early career of one of Canada’s hockey legends, the Museum of History has acquired a leather team jacket worn by Bobby Orr during his 1964–1965 season with the Oshawa Generals. Orr joined the team at 14, and quickly attracted attention from fans, the media and the National Hockey League. The jacket represents Orr’s career in Canada before he joined the Boston Bruins in 1966–1967.
  • Wearable Tech
    Two traditional Western Arctic parkas were generously donated to the Museum of History this year by Dr. Françoise Bouchard. Both parkas were made by well-known Inuvialuit artist Agnes Nigiyok and reflect clothing technologies adapted to survival in one of the most challenging environments on Earth.
  • Rick Hansen: Man in Motion
    Thirty-five years ago, Rick Hansen set out, in his wheelchair, on an incredible 26-month, 40,000-kilometre journey around the world. His goal was to change perceptions about people with disabilities, raise funds to build accessible communities and research a cure for spinal-cord injuries. The Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour Collection — generously donated by Hansen and his family to the Museum of History — includes 1,700 artifacts and extensive archival material from the Man In Motion World Tour, as well as a selection of material highlighting Hansen’s Paralympic and Olympic career. Many of the objects and documents in the collection are of national significance.
  • A jacket presented to Rick Hansen by a Canadian Kinsmen Club, bearing pins representing local towns and clubs across the country

    A red jacket covered in colourful lapel pins

  • An Illustrious Military Dynasty
    The War Museum was pleased to acquire documents related to the Le Moyne family this year. Prominent in the military and political life of New France, members of the Le Moyne family served in civic office and various military conflicts from the 1650s to the late 1700s. One of the Montréal-born Le Moynes would go on to found New Orleans in 1718.
  • A Soldier of the Great War
    During the German Spring Offensive of the First World War, the injured Edmund De Wind cleared an enemy trench with only two non-commissioned officers, killed many Germans and continued to repel multiple attacks until he was mortally wounded. His Victoria Cross medal set was purchased this year by the War Museum, supported by generous donors. This acquisition brings the Museum’s collection of Victoria Cross sets to 40 of the 99 that were awarded to Canadians.
  • Reporting From the World’s Hotspots
    In fall 2019, the War Museum acquired the archives of award-winning photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, Garth Pritchard. This includes hours of film footage, photographs and first-hand accounts by Canadian soldiers and many others. Reporting from conflict zones as diverse as Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti and Sri Lanka, Pritchard has already been featured prominently in the 2007 War Museum exhibition Afghanistan: A Glimpse of War and in the Museum’s galleries. Unfortunately, Mr. Pritchard passed away in the spring of 2020. The War Museum was honoured to have had the opportunity of working with him.
  • Garth Pritchard (left) filming Canadian snipers at Kandahar Airfield, March 2002
    Photo: © Stephen Thorne/The Canadian Press, 20080028-009_garth04, Canadian War Museum

    A man filming a soldier who is aiming a gun while standing behind a pile of sandbags in a desert setting

  • Canada’s Tank Ace
    Canadian Brigadier-General Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters was a tank commander during the Second World War. Widely acknowledged as the Allies’ top tank ace, Radley-Walters received both the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross for actions that began on D-Day. The War Museum is proud to have acquired his medal set.
  • Colonel and Governor
    The War Museum also acquired a medal set belonging to General Sir Howard Douglas, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., F.R.S., Colonel of the 15th Regiment of Foot. Douglas served as Governor of New Brunswick from 1823 to 1832 and was the founder of the University of New Brunswick.
  • Part of the medal set awarded to General Sir Howard Douglas, G.C.B., G.C.M.G.

    A silver military medal with a blue and red ribbon, displayed in a brown box with a black and white lining

  • Master of Juno Beach
    A collection belonging to Lieutenant-Commander Bertram Lambert of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve was acquired by the War Museum this year. Lambert was the “beach master” when Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. The collection includes beach maps, charts and tables, Lambert’s wartime medals and uniform, and other archival materials.
  • A Royal Connection
    A chair used by Princess Juliana of the Netherlands after giving birth to Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital on January 19, 1943, was acquired this year, in addition to corresponding photographic material.
Working With Indigenous Peoples

A significant proportion of the collections at the Museum of History reflect Indigenous peoples and traditions. Collecting continues today, primarily in the form of contemporary art and craft, and in collaboration with communities and artists.

Group of five people seated in front of a terraced stone building

Participants of the 2019–2020 RBC Indigenous Internship Program (left to right: Skylar-James Wall, Shaun Canute, Sarah Monnier, Kaitlyn Stephens, with Program Coordinator Gaëlle Mollen)

This year, the Museum developed a comprehensive Framework for Indigenous Relations. The framework is the first document of its kind for the Museum and is intended to define its commitment to working with Indigenous peoples across Canada. Its primary purpose is to create institutional change toward strengthening relationships between the Museum and Indigenous peoples, while laying out a respectful and mutually beneficial way forward.

The Museum has a long history of engagement and collaboration with Indigenous communities in Canada. The framework aligns with other institutional guiding documents, including those related to ongoing repatriation, and takes into account evolving legislation, the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Incorporating feedback from extensive consultations with groups that include staff from across the Museums, participants of the Museum’s Indigenous Internship Program, Indigenous-led organizations and a range of external experts, the framework has a multi-year approach. It seeks to improve access, engagement and cultural awareness through considerations such as streamlining access to collections; prioritizing Indigenous languages; incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing; making collections available locally; engaging in meaningful consultation; hiring Indigenous staff and experts; and incorporating Indigenous voices into work produced by the Museum.

The Museum’s strength lies in its collections and their associated histories. The Framework for Indigenous Relations formalizes existing practices, while guiding the development of new processes and policies toward developing and maintaining relationships, trust and reputation with Indigenous peoples across the country.

Engaging In Dynamic Partnerships and Networks


  1. Build upon the success of the collaborative approach with Indigenous communities that led to the Canadian History Hall.
    The Corporation continues to build on the structure and principles used for Indigenous consultation on the Canadian History Hall for major ongoing projects of various types, including research, exhibition and repatriation. The Canadian Museum of History continues to build and strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities both locally and across Canada. In addition, the Museum has begun planning for long-term engagements with graduates of the Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices), with the goal of creating a standing network of Indigenous cultural experts. This will allow deeper community knowledge on an issue by issue basis, and will facilitate and encourage ongoing interactions, proactivity and information-sharing.
  2. A woman in a dark suit speaks at a podium in front of a slide show

    CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault speaks at the Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture
    Fangliang Xu, Carleton University

  3. Initiate or participate in partnerships with like-minded institutions, nationally and internationally.
    The Museums regularly seek out and establish partnerships with like-minded institutions and organizations for events at the Museums and externally. These partnerships increase visibility and outreach opportunities among audiences across the country and internationally, further establishing the Museums as a hub for history, and bringing in new and diverse audiences. In addition, the Museum of History leads the History Museums Network, a national network that promotes greater understanding of Canadian identity, history, arts and culture across Canada and internationally, and fosters partnerships in the areas of exhibitions, research, programming activities, access to resources and facilities, and collections.
  4. Continue to establish and build upon international partnerships to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and cultures.
    The Museums use conferences and other opportunities to build relationships with leading museums around the world, in order to identify initiatives of mutual interest that will bring knowledge, collections and stories of world history and cultures to Canadian audiences.

Indicators and Targets

The Corporation has developed two indicators that reflect areas of interest to the Board of Trustees, and that measure the achievement of this strategic direction.

Number of partnerships and collaborations initiated
Includes collaborative projects initiated through the signature of a partnership agreement or memorandum of understanding.
Result ▲ 54
Target 39
2018–2019 Result 78

Group of five people, three standing and two seated, including one woman in a wheelchair, in front of a framed image and Indigenous regalia on a mannequin

Left to right: From Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, Chief Hugh Akagi, Councillor Margaret Nelson, Councillor Rita Fraser (seated), Cynthia Howland and Museum President Mark O’Neill

The Museums were very active in this sphere, with 54 partnerships and collaborations underway over the course of 2019–2020, exceeding the annual target by 38%. The Museum of History worked with the Department of Canadian Heritage to deliver programming for Canada Day and Winterlude, and was the venue for the 2019 Federal Leaders’ Debates. Other partnership events at the Museum included a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, in partnership with the Rwandan High Commission; and a powerful concert and ceremony, hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and APTN, honouring the children who died while attending Residential Schools. At the War Museum, some of the most notable collaborations were with embassies: it partnered with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to present the World Press Photo exhibition; with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates to present a display of peace-themed carpets created by Afghan women; and with the Embassy of Latvia in relation to The Latvian Tragedy – 1941 exhibition. Other War Museum partnership events included National Holocaust Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day (commemorating the Gallipoli Campaign), and the annual Nijmegen March Send-Off Parade. In addition, both Museums established partnerships relating to future exhibitions, programs and research. The Museum of History signed partnership agreements with the Ontario Museum Association for a workshop on Indigenous collections, and with the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik regarding the holding in trust of a unique collection of Peskotomuhkati material culture by the Museum. The War Museum concluded agreements with Canada House (London, U.K.), which will host a display of works by war artist Molly Lamb Bobak, and with The World Remembers to develop a long-term display at the Museum.

Number of projects initiated through the History Museums Network
Measures the number of projects initiated through the Network — whether by the Museum or another member of the Network — in which the Museum participates or not, and of which the Museum is at least informed. Projects can include partnerships in areas such as exhibitions, research, programming and collections.
Result ▼ 4
Target 10
2018–2019 Result 9
Over the course of 2019–2020, four projects were initiated through the History Museums Network, rather than 10, as targeted. The Museum of History delivered an afternoon tea event with the 8th Countess of Carnarvon (Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey: Canadians at Highclere Castle), and similar events were held with two Network partners, the Royal Ontario Museum and Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. In addition, the Museum signed an agreement with Pointe-à-Callière in regard to an upcoming exhibition project.

Key Activities

Partnering With Indigenous Communities
A young, smiling woman crouches in green grass and displays a stone arrowhead in the palm of her hand

An intern participating in the Museum of History’s COASTAL archaeology project
Dr. Matthew Betts, Canadian Museum of History

Work in this area continued in all parts of the country through treaty negotiation, repatriation discussions and collaborations with Indigenous communities on projects of mutual interest.

One of the key initiatives this year was COASTAL (Community Observation, Assessment and Salvage of Threatened Archaeological Legacy), a continuing project aimed at identifying and studying Indigenous coastal sites in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In partnership with the Acadia First Nation, Bear River First Nation, Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn (the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative), the Nova Scotia Museum and the University of New Brunswick, COASTAL 2019 completed a survey of coastal erosion on Nova Scotia’s South and Fundy shores. Aimed at building local archaeological expertise and capacity, COASTAL trains students as researchers. To date, more than 90% of sites previously identified as “at risk” have been eroded, representing a loss of about 2,000 years of Indigenous history.

The Museum of History was proud to have partnered with several organizations for a number of special events honouring Indigenous cultures or acknowledging dark chapters in Indigenous histories. These included a tribute concert and ceremony for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in partnership with APTN, as well as special public programming in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day in June. The Museum is proud to have been selected as the host venue for important occasions such as these.

In acknowledgement of its location on the traditional territory of the Anishinabeg (Algonquin), the Museum of History is in the early stages of an initiative aimed at the creation of a work of art for the Museum’s outdoor plaza. Details of the project will be shared publicly as part of a future announcement.

A Collection Purchased in Trust
A man in jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap, and a woman in a white lab coat, examine Indigenous regalia displayed on a mannequin

Working together to preserve an important collection acquired in partnership with the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik

An unprecedented agreement was signed this year between the Museum of History and the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, to safeguard a unique collection of more than 100 items reflecting traditional Indigenous material culture. The Museum will house and care for the collection — in partnership with the Nation — until it can be returned permanently to the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, who will then assume responsibility for its care and conservation.

The range of items — wooden tools, beaded clothing and bags, beaded jewellery, silver jewellery, games and puzzles, bowls, drums, headdresses, canoes, woven baskets and more — make this one of the largest known collections of traditional Peskotomuhkati material culture in Canada. In addition, some of the objects reflect other Wabanaki First Nations, including the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Abenaki and Penobscot.

As part of the agreement, the Museum is contributing financially to the collection’s care, and may develop an exhibition incorporating items from the collection, in association with the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik. Although the Museum has collaborated in the past with Indigenous communities — on long-term loans to Indigenous cultural centres, shared stewardship agreements and travelling exhibitions — this is the first time it has purchased a collection in trust on behalf of an Indigenous community.

Repatriation Projects

Building on over four decades of work, the Museum of History continued its ongoing repatriation work, collaborating with Indigenous communities, including the Ucluelet First Nation in British Columbia, the Labrador Innu Nation and the Mi’kmaq Matriation Committee in New Brunswick. The Museum also worked with a number of communities including the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in British Columbia, on agreements for the long-term loan of materials, in lieu of repatriation.

A Vibrant New Collaboration

The Museum of History was proud to have announced a new partnership with Indigenous Experiences, a local organization providing authentic Indigenous programming to visitors from across Canada and around the world. As part of this partnership, Indigenous Experiences has been offering displays, vibrant dance performances and cultural workshops to visitors on the grounds of the Museum.

A Range of Partners

Throughout the year, both the Museum of History and the War Museum were proud to collaborate with a wide range of Canadian partners, including other museums, universities, community organizations and government departments. A particularly notable example this year included the Museum of History’s role as the venue for the nationally broadcast 2019 Federal Leaders’ Debates. Organized in collaboration with the Canadian Debate Production Partnership, this high-profile event was well suited to take place at the Museum, which is mandated to increase Canadians’ knowledge of the people and events that shape our country’s history.

Also this year, the Museum partnered with the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge and the Royal Alberta Museum to explore the earliest-known archaeological site with evidence of the human butchering of Late Pleistocene horses and camels.

A significant partnership was in place for the presentation of the 12th biennial North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC) at the Museum of History in September 2019. The theme of the conference was “Lessons Learned: Textile Conservation – Then and Now.” This event gathered experts in textile conservation from around the world, and was organized in partnership with the Canadian Conservation Institute and the National Gallery of Canada. Both these institutions provided workshops and tours of their facilities.

The School of Journalism at Carleton University continued its partnership with the War Museum to present the third annual Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture, which honours the legacy of Peter Stursberg (1913‒2014), who was Canada’s last living war correspondent from the Second World War.

A woman in a navy-blue dress speaks at a podium in front of a slide show
Caroline Dromaguet, Acting Director General of the War Museum, at the Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture
Fangliang Xu, Carleton University

A smiling man wearing glasses and a suit rests his hands on the shoulders of an older woman with white hair and glasses, and who has military medals pinned to her dress
Veteran Elsa Lessard and Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the War Museum, at the Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture
Fangliang Xu, Carleton University

The popular Music & Beyond festival worked with the Museum of History to feature some of its concerts there, and the War Museum hosted a well-attended panel discussion by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a federal public policy think tank.

The War Museum also partnered with CAPCON to host the organization’s annual military modelling competition, which attracted hundreds of guests. In addition, the Museum became the new starting point for the Canada Army Run, bringing 25,000 participants to the site. Events such as these further strengthen the Museum’s ties to veterans and serving members of the Canadian Forces, as well as the general public. Numerous other organizations worked with the Museum of History and the War Museum to deliver public lectures, high-profile gala dinners for visiting dignitaries and other special events.

Corporate partners included the Royal Bank of Canada, which continued its financial support of the RBC Indigenous Internship Program. Government departments ranging from Canadian Heritage to National Defence worked with the Museum of History and the War Museum on events and initiatives that included a Minister’s Movie Night, National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, Canada Day celebrations and the Canadian Armed Forces Imagery Contest.

International Initiatives

Many of the international partnerships undertaken by the Museum of History and the War Museum relate to exhibitions, conferences and special events, through which the Museums share Canadian history with international audiences, in addition to introducing visitors to world cultures. Cultural diplomacy remains a key priority for the Museums, helping share Canadian stories with the world’s audiences, and vice-versa. Key international partnerships for the Museum of History this year included agreements with the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, the Embassy of Egypt, the Embassy of Colombia and the Embassy of Japan. Key international partnerships for the War Museum included agreements with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, the Rwandan High Commission, the U.S. Embassy, the High Commission of Australia, the High Commission of New Zealand and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The War Museum also partnered with the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, and the Museum “Jews in Latvia” on the exhibition The Latvian Tragedy – 1941, which was presented at the Museum by the Embassy of Latvia.

The Museum of History and Global Affairs Canada held a joint reception for diplomatic heads of mission in June 2019. The event, held in the Canadian History Hall, was attended by more than 130 ambassadors and high commissioners and their spouses, providing them with an opportunity to learn about Canada’s history and culture through guided tours of the Hall. This successful event will be repeated on an annual basis.

The History Museums Network

The History Museums Network, initiated by the Canadian Museum of History, is a coalition of Canadian museums, as well as cultural and heritage organizations, working together to share resources, projects and venues. One of the network’s key projects for 2019–2020 was the agreement signed between the Museum of History, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, and the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, for the Canadian presentation of the Queens of Egypt exhibition.

Discussions initiated among network members during the 2018–2019 year resulted in the successful touring event, Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey: Canadians at Highclere Castle, with the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, which was presented at the Museum of History, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and at Pointe-a-Callière in Montréal in spring 2019.

A formal meeting of the History Museums Network was held in April 2019 during the annual conference of the Canadian Museums Association, which was held in Toronto.

Ensuring the Museum Has the Financial Resources To Carry Out Its Mandate


  1. Continue to develop innovative and responsible strategies to diversify revenue streams.
    Approximately 75% of the Museum’s funding comes from an annual appropriation from the Government of Canada; the remaining 25% is from non-governmental revenues. Commercial revenues — which include admissions, parking, facility rentals, food concessions, Gift Shop sales and Memberships — are critical to support operational priorities and the Museum’s viability. The Corporation is always looking for innovative ways to increase revenues in these areas.
  2. Two smiling men stand holding a large cheque, surrounded by military vehicles

    A generous donation by the Friends of the Canadian War Museum

  3. Continue to implement funding strategies.
    The Corporation’s Three-Year Development Strategy (2018–2019 to 2020–2021) focuses on three main strategic drivers: the renewal of the Canadian Children’s Museum, leveraging the Canadian History Hall, and the Canadian War Museum as it moves beyond First World War commemorations. Funding in support of these strategic drivers will be achieved through the Corporation’s four active fundraising streams: major gifts and campaigns, corporate and community engagement, the partners’ circle and annual giving. The Corporation is strengthening stewardship activities for all levels of giving, to encourage long-term relationship-building between the Museums and their supporters.
  4. Continue to engage the shareholder in developing a new funding model.
    As the Canadian Museum of History facility reaches 30 years of age, repair costs are becoming critical and the possibility of system failures increases. The Corporation 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.

Indicators and Targets

The Corporation has developed two indicators that reflect areas of interest to the Board of Trustees, and that measure the achievement of this strategic direction.

Dollar value of fundraising activities (in ’000s)
Measures all amounts raised to support the core priorities of the Corporation. Three fundraising streams — major gifts, annual giving and sponsorships — will be used to reach corporate targets. This indicator does not include gifts-in-kind.
Result ▲ $2,553
Target $2,275
2018–2019 Result $2,405
Fundraising, through the annual giving and major gifts streams, brought in more than $2.5 million in 2019–2020, exceeding the annual target by 12%. The Museums received a number of significant major gifts, including a $300,000 gift in support of an exhibition in development on civil liberties in Canada and a $400,000 gift in support of the Learning Agenda associated with the Canadian History Hall. Several direct-giving appeals were launched, including a highly successful Remembrance Day appeal, which raised $133,000 against a goal of $115,000, and enlisted 2,115 new and reactivated donors. The 2019–2020 result for fundraising was 6% higher than the previous year.
Dollar value of all revenue-generating activities (in ’000s)
Measures all amounts raised by activities of the Museums, including admissions, Gift Shop sales, and revenues from facility rentals, food concessions and parking.
Result ▲ $17,016
Target $16,210
2018–2019 Result $17,862
The Museums generated just over $17 million in 2019–2020, exceeding the annual target by 5% despite the significant impact of the Museum closures at the end of the fourth quarter. Revenues from facility rentals and special events were particularly strong, due to a number of large events including the Federal Leaders’ Debates in October. The Museum met its targets for Gift Shop sales and parking revenues. Revenues were almost 5% lower than in 2018–2019, which is consistent with the lower attendance levels experienced in 2019–2020 compared to the previous year.
Map of Canada showing donors per province / territory

Donors Across Canada and Abroad, 2019–2020


Key Activities

Donations and Gifts-in-Kind

In 2019–2020, annual giving surpassed expectations at $543,002, meeting 114% of the annual target of $475,000. The program engaged with 4,939 active donors, of whom 1,370 were newly acquired during the fiscal year. Gifts-in-kind were $613,817, or 123% of the targeted $500,000.

Major Gifts and Sponsorship

In accordance with the Museum’s Development Strategy, the financial target was set at $1,800,000. This target is a key measure of success and helps forecast future revenues. The Museum undertook 33 new major gift solicitations — 17 of which have been signed, totalling more than $1,345,000. Altogether it has successfully confirmed $2,010,000, which includes $920,000 in pledges, or 112% of the target.

Telling a Difficult Canadian Story

In association with the upcoming exhibition Civil Liberties, the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund has provided a generous $300,000 in funding. The First World War section of the exhibition explores the suspension of human rights during the conflict and after the war, including the internment of Ukrainian Canadians and many others deemed “enemy aliens.”

Honouring Canadian Soldiers

The War Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Canadian Victoria Cross medal sets. This year, CIBC donated funds toward the Museum’s acquisition of the Edmund De Wind Victoria Cross, and Brian Hastings contributed to the acquisition of the James Robertson Victoria Cross. Both medal sets have since been acquired by the War Museum in trust for all Canadians.

The Importance of Learning

Several donors provided significant support this year to educational initiatives at both Museums. The R. Howard Webster Foundation generously supported the War Museum’s Supply Line with a gift of $200,000, helping to expand the free-of-charge Discovery Box school program to include a Second World War edition. This program is incredibly popular, with 313 Discovery Boxes having been booked across the country (196 First World War Discovery Boxes, and 117 Second World War Discovery Boxes). The schedule for reserving these boxes is typically full by early in the school year, speaking to how much teachers and students value this hands-on learning opportunity.

The Rossy Foundation provided funding to support the Museum’s digital resource development program, which will bring educational experiences based on the Canadian History Hall to students and educators online.

Two teenage girls and one teenage boy seated at a table, looking at objects including old military hats and helmets
The Canadian War Museum’s award-winning Supply Line Discovery Box

A crouching woman speaks to two standing men while gesturing to a colourful painted mural
Interns participating in the 2019–2020 RBC Indigenous Internship Program

Supporting Tomorrow’s Museum Experts

The RBC Foundation renewed its support of the RBC Indigenous Internship Program for a sixth year, with a generous gift of $100,000. This one-of-a-kind program provides Indigenous trainees from across the country with practical hands-on instruction in museological practices at both the Museum of History and the War Museum, while also providing staff at the Museums with new insights into Indigenous culture, traditions and world views.

Sharing Canadian Stories

Exhibitions and programming are key ways of connecting and engaging with visitors. Over the year, both Museums benefitted considerably from funding toward the development and presentation of exhibitions and programming. Arthur Drache and Judy Young Drache continued their generous support of the Library and Archives–Museum of History exhibition partnership.

TD Bank Group provided generous support for Black History Month programming. The Azrieli Foundation provided $15,000 in undesignated support. And the Friends of the Canadian War Museum contributed a generous $100,000 to War Museum programming throughout the year.

A group of 11 men and women stand holding a large cheque, surrounded by military vehicles

A generous donation by the Friends of the Canadian War Museum


Diversified Revenue Streams

Museums are trusted sources of information, as well as venues for social interaction. To keep pace with a rapidly changing society, both Museums continued to adapt their programming throughout the year. In addition to presenting exhibitions and offering school programs, each Museum presents conferences, lectures, wine-tastings, dances, concerts and other fee-based events, providing visitors with unique ways of interacting with the Museum.

Thematic merchandise related to each major exhibition is also a reliable source of revenue, as are the Museums’ popular souvenir catalogues published for major exhibitions. These publications often sell out due to their fascinating content, visual appeal and accessible price point. In addition, both Museums carefully monitor admission fees and rates for amenities such as parking and facility rentals, ensuring that they remain competitive with other major Canadian cultural attractions.

Our Valuable Members

Museum Memberships are also key sources of revenue. In 2019–2020, the Museums welcomed 8,280 new Members, bringing its total to 23,989. Throughout the year, Members have enjoyed the Museum’s dynamic programming and exhibitions, as well as exclusive Member benefits such as previews of special exhibitions, and Dinner and Movie nights — a new series featuring a three-course dinner at the Museum of History’s Bistro Boréal, followed by a film at the CINÉ+. The ongoing support of Members is vital to the work of the Museums.

Capital Projects

Escalating non-discretionary accommodation costs and capital repairs remain a challenge. The Corporation is responsible for two iconic national sites; one of them is 30 years old and the other is approaching 15 years. Twenty-three building infrastructure projects and nine IT infrastructure projects totalling $5.6 million were in process or completed in 2019–2020. The additional one-time capital funding of $15 million over five years, approved in Budget 2016, allowed the Museum to complete health- and safety-related projects such as the replacement of air handling units, the replacement of electrical power distribution panels, and an update of exterior and parking garage lighting.

The Museum will return to an annual base capital funding of $2.5 million in future years, as 2020–2021 is the last year of the five-year, one-time funding allocation. Base funding remains below the levels necessary to keep ageing infrastructure in good condition.

The Corporation will continue to work with the Department of Canadian Heritage on a long-term solution to address operating challenges such as escalating non-discretionary costs and the need to address critical capital projects.

Responding to Audit Recommendations

The Corporation made significant progress in responding to audit recommendations over the course of 2019–2020. At the beginning of 2019–2020, there were six outstanding recommendations which had been made by the Office of the Auditor General or the Corporation’s internal auditor; by the end of the year, the number had been reduced to one. Completed recommendations related to project management, collections management, the completion of a strategy for a more proactive approach to recruitment and workforce planning, and the development of a succession plan.