It’s nothing short of amazing the range of products sold to Canadians with images of canoes somehow insinuated into the advertising. It’s found in promotions for everything from tourism products to public art to whiskey containers, from house paint to mutual funds, from feminine hygiene products to Internet services. To catch Canadian eyes in the marketplace, use a canoe. It makes sense, given that the canoe served as the primary vehicle of communication and commerce in this nation of rivers, and helped get us to where we are.

Over the past several years, a few old birch bark canoes have been rediscovered, such as the Galway or Grandfather Akwiten canoe in Ireland and the Enys canoe in England (as seen in the video above). As such, canoes have gained prominence in the media, opening up possibilities for reinventing the idea of the canoe as an enduring and perhaps more future-oriented symbol, totem or talisman for the entire country.

As Canada’s 150th Birthday approaches, the Canadian Canoe Museum is seeking ways to renew respect between and amongst new and established Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and the canoe (along with its cousin, the kayak, in the Arctic) may be just the thing to bring us all back together. Since the very beginning, we have all been ‘in the same boat,’ and maybe now is as good a time as any to remember that.

James Raffan is the executive director of the Canadian Canoe Museum