Portaging the Canoe canoe

The name “Canoe” was chosen for this web portal, at the height of the internet craze, because it spoke of Canada’s traditional information networks.

In the early days of our development, Canoe carried that history proudly. We told our audience All About Canoes and we even had a pair of canoes made for our offices by Evergreen: one canvas-covered, one cedar strip, both adorned with our logo.

Thus an icon associated with digital navigation was married to an icon associated with geographic navigation. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The media world flows like a mighty river: fast, and constantly changing. My passion for the capacity of a canoe notwithstanding, the appetite for Canada’s ancestral metaphors and the romance they refer to may have faded in the early days of the 21st century.

We moved our offices a few weeks ago, and the cedar-strip canoe that’s stood by our entrance for years couldn’t come with us. So it goes, I suppose. But a canoe is still an object of great power and beauty. I felt personally responsible for making sure it went to a good home, where its symbolic value would be understood.

Luckily I knew just the place: The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. There, the history of canoes, and their current cultural associations, are equally revered and enjoyed, and shared with the people of Canada. That’s what they do.


So we gave them the Canoe canoe, with all its contemporary connotations, as an odd icon of the digital age. Complete with our logo, it joins a permanent collection of several hundred of historic canoes that have helped to shape and define Canada.

It was a real pleasure to tie on my ceinture fléchée and portage this little craft, from the river of information and commerce to the river of history and myth.

As a decorative item, it was never made to float – its cedar slats were never covered in canvas – but it sure carries nicely. The only tricky part was getting through the door frame on the way out to the pickup truck I rented for the trip.

That’s probably a metaphor for something.

I’ll let you know when I’ve worked out what it is.

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