A Victoria Cross medal set, one of Canada’s earliest goalie masks and a work by Tom Thomson that almost ended up in the trash, are among the treasures owned by Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum for all to enjoy.
None of this would have been possible without the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corp.’s National Collection Fund.
“The museum is charged with collecting and preserving objects for future generations,” said Mark O’Neill, vice-president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corp. and director general of the Canadian War Museum. “The artifacts tell our stories and define our country.”
While Canadians do donate artifacts, the museum has missed out on many opportunities to acquire important pieces due to the lack of funds, O’Neill said. These pieces have often fallen into the hands of private collectors, sometimes in other countries – a loss for all Canadians.
Four years ago, the fund was established to acquire historic objects for preservation and public access.
Several treasures displayed at the war museum yesterday – the Lt. Col. Shankland Victoria Cross medal set, Montreal Canadiens Jacques Plante’s pretzel design goalie mask, a watercolour by Tom Thomson, and Shaman Revealed, a print by Ningeokuluk Teevee – would not have been purchased without the fund, said O’Neill.
The medal set – “the highest medal awarded for valour,” O’Neill said – was purchased by the museum for $288,000.
“It’s a great Canadian story,” he said. “When people engage with an artifact, they learn something about who they are.”
While the Jacques Plante mask, “tells a very important story about how sports evolved in Canada,” O’Neill said, The Foot Path of Peace was thrown out by a dissatisfied Thomson, but later rescued from the garbage, said war museum assistant historian Dr. Amber Lloydlangston.
Monday’s event announced a fundraiser for the National Collection Fund, the fourth annual history costume ball – themed The Great Canadian Adventure – at the war museum on Oct. 28. Entertainment includes the Floyd Hutchinson Jazz Quintet, the Stevens and Kennedy band and actors playing Canadian adventurers, from lumberjacks to fur traders.