About Us

About Us

Spring 2012

> Message from President and CEO
> An Extraordinary Gift from Extraordinary Collectors
> Sun Life Financial Honours its Veterans
> The School Access Program — Opening Doors
> Operation Veteran Update: The Momentum is Building


A Message from the President and CEO

Mark O'Neill - President and CEO
Mark O’Neill, President and CEO

This year the Museums will begin commemorating a remarkable series of milestones in Canadian history. The War of 1812, the First World War, Confederation—each of these unique formative events offers a different perspective on Canada past and present, and their anniversaries are an opportunity for the Museums to act as focal points for Canada-wide commemorations and explorations.

Our War of 1812 exhibition, presented by TD Bank Group and sponsored by Ancestry.ca, will be shown at the War Museum starting in June and will travel in 2013 to museums in cities across Canada. It will give visitors a vivid sense of the war from the very different perspectives of the four central participants: Canadians, Americans, the British and Native Americans.

For the centenary of the First World War, we will offer a once-in-a-lifetime program spanning from 2014 to 2018. It will feature an extraordinary range of exhibitions, websites, social media features, publications and travelling exhibits. To help ensure we reach as many Canadians as possible, the War Museum will launch a $3-million fundraising campaign to supplement funding from government and our sponsors.

We’re just beginning to plan our 2017 commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, but our goal is to reach across the country to help Canadians celebrate and learn more about this literally nation-defining event.

I encourage you to participate in all three of these outstanding Canadian commemorations. I’m sure you’ll have rich and memorable experiences.

Mark O’Neill
President and Chief Executive Officer


An Extraordinary Gift from Extraordinary Collectors

Stackable teapot set, Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0003-Dm
Stackable teapot set featuring the Canadian coat of arms (older version, used between 1921 and 1957) from the Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0003-Dm

When Auguste Vachon and his wife Paula Gornescu-Vachon began collecting ceramics featuring Canadian heraldry (coats of arms, armorial bearings, insignia and other related symbols) in the mid-1980s, it was easy to predict that they would assemble an impressive collection. After all, Auguste was Saint-Laurent Herald and Registrar of the Canadian Heraldic Authority and Paula was a museum cataloguer. Still, even the Vachons had no inkling that their collection would eventually include more than 1,100 plates, bowls, saucers and many other ceramic pieces representing the entire spectrum of Canadian heraldry, from the Crown, governors general and the federal government to provinces, municipalities, universities and military regiments.

In 2007, after downsizing from a house to an apartment, the Vachons made an extraordinary decision: to donate their collection to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. “When we moved, we had to put the collection in storage,” says Auguste. “We wanted it to have a permanent home and to be widely accessible, so we chose the Museum of Civilization.”

A National Treasure

As they acquired pieces, the Vachons documented each object’s date, manufacturer, country of origin and material, along with descriptive, historical and bibliographical notes. “To have such an extensive collection assembled by experts is extraordinary,” says Dr. Xavier Gélinas, the Museum of Civilization’s Curator, Canadian Political History, and Assistant Director, Archaeology and History. “When you add very broad and accurate documentation as a support, it’s even more precious.” The unique value of the collection was recently affirmed when the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, an independent panel of experts, designated it to be “of outstanding significance and national importance.”

The public will have an opportunity to see Vachon Collection pieces in the upcoming exhibition A Queen and Her Country opening this July.

Plates, Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0001-Dm
Hand-painted souvenir plates, Wedgwood Pottery (UK), featuring Canadian heraldic symbols (circa 1909-1917) from the Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0001-Dm

Jasperware tea service, Wedgwood, Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0002-Dm
Jasperware tea service, Wedgwood Pottery (UK) circa 1905, featuring Canadian coat of arms (older version before 1876) from the Vachon Collection, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo Steven Darby, IMG2012-0025-0002-Dm

A Unique Record of Canada’s Symbolic History

“The Vachon Collection offers the widest possible panorama of our national symbolic history, with every type of political institution across Canada pictorially represented,” says Xavier Gélinas.

“It documents seminal events such as royal visits, the Boer War, the First World War, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Expo 1967 and the repatriation of the Constitution. The Museum receives the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board’s recognition of the collection’s significance with pride and humility. It’s our responsibility to be a good steward for this remarkable collection, which is truly a gift to all Canadians.”


Sun Life Financial Honours Its Veterans

It began with a letter. A woman wrote to Sun Life Financial Canada about her father, a longtime Sun Life employee based in Singapore and a veteran of the Second World War. He had suffered terribly as a prisoner of war, the woman wrote, but survived. Had Sun Life ever considered doing something to honour the sacrifices made by employees like her father?

“We thought it was a lovely idea,” says Linda MacKenzie, Sun Life’s Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy. “After considering a few other options, we made a significant financial gift to the Canadian War Museum. We realized it was the ideal partner for honouring Sun Life employees and financial advisors who, through service in the armed forces or merchant navies of Canada and its allies, defended their countries, peoples, freedoms and values.”

In a special ceremony on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2011, Kevin Dougherty, President of Sun Life Financial Canada, unveiled an honorary plaque in Regeneration Hall at the War Museum. “It was very moving,” says Linda MacKenzie. “Our plaque is right next to the fabulous painting Sacrifice (Charles Sims, c. 1918), which shows the many ways that Canadians have been affected by war.”

Bringing Canada’s Military History to More Canadians

Mark O'Neill and Kevin Dougherty, CWM2011-0087-0030-Dm
Mark O’Neill, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation and Kevin Dougherty, President of Sun Life Financial Canada Inc., CWM2011-0087-0030-Dm

“As well as memorializing Sun Life Canada’s veterans, the company’s significant financial gift helps the Museum bring more of Canada’s military history to more Canadians,” explains Claude Drouin, Director of Philanthropy for the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation.

“Their gift will have a wide range of impacts, from helping us acquire and preserve artifacts, to making our collection more accessible through War Museum and travelling exhibitions, to research that puts artifacts in a historical and social context, to education programs, both here at the Museum and through our website. Sun Life is making a difference in so many ways.”

To learn more about commemorative giving at the Museum, contact Claude Drouin, Director of Philanthropy, at 819-776-8625.


The School Access Program—Opening Doors

Canadian Children's Museum, CMC2008-0934-0058-Dm
Canadian Children’s Museum, CMC2008-0934-0058-Dm

In the Children’s Museum, students make bread and create new endings to their favourite Robert Munsch stories. In Canada Hall, they travel back in time to experience daily life in New France and as one of the first European settlers in the Ottawa Valley. At the War Museum, they discover through diaries, letters and photos how Canadians were affected by the First World War.

These are just a few of many school programs that more than 3,000 students from low-income neighbourhoods in Ottawa-Gatineau are able to attend every year free of charge through the School Access Program.

Funded by donations from The Cowan Foundation, TD Bank Group and the Harold Crabtree Foundation, as well as from individuals, the program meets an acute need. “Students at these schools typically don’t have the opportunity to go on field trips to enrich and enhance their education,” explains Maureen Ward, Manager of Programs at the Museums. “At the beginning of the school year we invite schools in low-income neighbourhoods to apply for the program and all our spaces are filled within a month.”

A comment from a teacher sums up the program’s impact:

“One boy in Grade 3 who rarely gets to go on outings and who never smiles was beaming and couldn’t wait to tell me all about the programs.”

A thank you note from a student after visiting the Museum:

“Dear Museum, I love the Museum. I love the big doll house.”

More Teacher Comments

To ensure the School Access Program is working effectively, we ask participating teachers to fill in a short survey. Here is a sampling of the overwhelmingly positive teacher comments we have received:

“Your program provides opportunities that cannot be duplicated in the classroom. Active hands-on experience with rich resources leaves a significant impact on students, allowing them to increase their knowledge and brings realism to the topic of study.”

“What sets your program apart from others and makes it so educational, invaluable and enriching for the students is that they met actual veterans.”

“Your staff and animators were amazing. Thank you so much for giving our kids such a wonderful opportunity with the Access Program.”

“Excellent initiative. To repeat. The outlying regions are underprivileged and this kind of a school outing is very expensive. Thank you, it is much appreciated.”

“The hands-on activity was amazing! Coming here helps us appreciate our rich Canadian history.”

If you’d like to support more children through the School Access Program, please donate by way of the Youth Education Fund at www.historymuseum.ca/donate and www.warmuseum.ca/donate.


Operation Veteran Update: The Momentum is Building

The last edition of Kudos! featured a story about Montréal periodontist Dr. Paul Kavanagh, who donated a life insurance policy to support in perpetuity the program he founded in 2009, Operation Veteran.

Dr. Kavanagh founded Operation Veteran to ensure that no veteran would lack the funds for a meal at the War Museum. In 2009, the program gave meal vouchers at the Museum’s cafeteria to 66 veterans on November 11, Remembrance Day. In 2010, the program was extended to every day the Museum is open and to date more than 3,500 veterans have benefited from the vouchers.

The program has expanded so quickly thanks to ever-increasing financial support. Operation Veteran raised $7,000 in 2009, $18,000 in 2010 and $35,000 in 2011, for a total so far of $60,000. Donations have come from companies and foundations, from individual Canadians and especially from schools across the country.

Paul Kavanagh, CWM2011-0087-0066-Dm
Paul Kavanagh, founder Operation Veteran, CWM2011-0087-0066-Dm

Paul Kavanagh, Jerry Bowen, and Nelson Langevin, CWM2011-0087-0013-Dm
Paul Kavanagh greeting veterans Jerry Bowen, Second World War and Korean War veteran (centre) and Nelson Langevin, Second World War veteran (right), CWM2011-0087-0013-Dm

Connecting with Canada’s Schools

Students from Laval Junior High School, CWM2011-0087-0045-Dm
Students from Laval Junior High School, presenting a cheque to Dr. Paul Kavanagh, CWM2011-0087-0045-Dm

Dr. Kavanagh is continually enlisting private and public schools to raise funds and awareness for Operation Veteran. He invites these schools to come to Ottawa on November 11 to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies, tour the War Museum, meet veterans and present their fundraising cheques to Operation Veteran. All expenses of these visits are covered by the participating schools. In 2009, 60 Montréal and Ottawa students participated; in 2011, 200 students from Newfoundland to British Columbia took part. Last November 11, Dr. Kavanagh gave the students and their teachers hand-held flags of their provinces, which made them highly visible to veterans. “It was our way of saying to vets: Thank you from every part of Canada.”

An Ideal Partnership

“Operation Veteran is clearly resonating with Canadians,” says Claude Drouin, Director of Philanthropy for the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We’re delighted to be able to support Dr. Kavanagh in channelling his passion for honouring veterans and helping to perpetuate the memory of their sacrifices and their invaluable contribution to younger and future generations into an organization with a truly national impact.”

Join Operation Veteran with an online donation, click here.

Museum Hours

Mon, Tue, Wed & Fri: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thur: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sat & Sun: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0M8
Tel: 1-800-555-5621

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