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Introducing Thousand Islands Boat Museum

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Located on the waterfront in Gananoque, Ontario, The Thousand Islands Boat Museum (TIBM) is a hands-on Museum where history becomes something that can be touched, built, and experienced.

The Museum includes a Boatbuilding Shop, a Children’s Activity Center, Exhibit Galleries, and an ongoing outreach program at the GISS High School during the school year. Current staff include: 2 full-time positions, (Executive Director and Museum Manager); 1 part-time, year-round position (General/Facilities Manager); and summer student positions during the summer months.

While the 4 buildings house Museum operations and programs, the Museum’s collection of antique boats are showcased on the docks as live exhibits. The Museum also hosts festivals and events, and is working to develop boating and sailing programs to the region’s youth. The vision of the TIBM is to bring the heritage of the St. Lawrence River, the 1000 Islands, and the magic spirit of the region to life.

Purpose and Vision

The Thousand Islands Boat Museum brings the heritage of the St. Lawrence River, the Thousand Islands, and the magic spirit of the region to life.

With the River as central theme, the Museum brings history to life through boats. Visitors leave the Museum having experienced a part of this special place by riding in the boats that are the river connection, helping to restore boats, viewing the collection of antique boats that have been on the river for generations, learning about the people who built these boats, wandering through re-created island cottages, and hearing the stories of people whose lives are (and have been) centered around the river.

The Museum showcases a collection of watercraft that are representative of the region; a display of 1000 Islands boats for the enjoyment of tourists, collectors, residents and visitors alike. Filled with community, the Museum is working towards creating a sense of place for all who visit – a communal meeting center that celebrates and illustrates the history of boats, boatbuilding, and river life. Long-time residents are actively engaged in passing on local history and traditions to a younger generation – the sharing of knowledge with the intent of instilling a sense of pride and identity through education.

First and foremost the Museum is a place of belonging, enlivened by experiential learning, vibrant storytelling, and relevant community activities and events. With an inviting, playful and comfortable environment, the Museum’s programs encourage community members to come often and “check things out”, participate, hold special events, volunteer, and share knowledge, memories and skills.

The Museum is of interest to all age groups, and offers engaging programming and activities. Visitors enter into a circle of experiential learning – boatbuilding, special events and gatherings, boat excursions into and onto the 1000 Islands, and meaningful and engaging exhibits and programs that explore the stories and history of Gananoque and the 1000 Islands region.

Although distinct and separate entities, the Museum works closely with the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York, with each organization complementing and promoting the activities, collections and programs of the other. In addition to collaboration in various areas of expertise, the working relationship will one day feature a cross border shuttle – a true international effort.

Thousand Island Boat Museum
Photo Credit: Thousand Island Boat Museum

It was established in 1993 to preserve the nautical heritage unique to this area of the St. Lawrence River. The goal of the Trust, through its not-for-profit and charitable status was to eventually convert to a true Museum that acquires, maintains, restores and preserves watercraft, documents and cultural history, for viewing and educational purposes.

In 2014, the Trust had accumulated the necessary momentum and resources to establish the Thousand Islands Boat Museum (TIBM), and secured an exceptional waterfront site for the Museum venture. This presented a new vision for the Gananoque waterfront – a vision that creates an engaging cultural attraction for residents and visitors.

The Thousand Islands Antique Boat Museum Trust (TIABMT) is a registered Canadian charity.

Learn more at: Thousand Islands Boat Museum


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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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