In The News

End of year 2021 update from the Chair of the Museum, Chris West.

Word from the Chair - End of year 2021
30 December 2021

End of year 2021 update from the Chair of the Museum, Chris West.

Gentle readers, I have often been accused of being an optimist – why walk in the shade when there’s a sunny side of the street? – but if you have read the preceding items in this Marine Museum News bulletin, it is impossible to deny the marvelous progress made by the Museum over the past year. 

As recounted so eloquently by Vice-Chair Serge Labbé, the work of our volunteers this year (this pandemical year) has been truly heroic. We would not be back in operation at 55 Ontario Street without them.  We are profoundly grateful to each and every one of you.


Kudos to Doug and Michelle and their team of dedicated student staff for maintaining operations on an even keel throughout a year in which we often had no idea whether we would be open or closed, nor where (the storefront at Portsmouth or our historic Ontario Street buildings).  As everyone knows, the pandemic threw a wrench into supply chains around the world, and we were not spared.  For the longest time, we kept pushing out the move-back date, because an essential electrical switch available only in Germany, kept failing to arrive.  That is but one example of the multitude of vagaries and contingencies that arose throughout 2021. 

But we prevailed!  The lights did come back on at 55 Ontario, we did move back in, and in case you missed it in a preceding article:  throughout all the upheaval we doubled our visitor and program attendee numbers to 10,000!  Just think what we can do in a full year of operation (Covid willing) now that we are properly installed at our National Historic Site. 

Another big thank you is in order for the Museum’s outstanding Board. They too were a vital part of the team that made the past year’s accomplishments a reality.  Larger organizations can have the luxury of boards that devote themselves exclusively to policy, strategy-related matters, and overseeing management – big picture stuff.  The rest is handed off to staff.  At the Marine Museum, we don’t have that luxury.  Every board member of this brave institution not only contributes to the crafting of the Mission, the Vision, the five-year plan, and so on; they also are expected to roll up their sleeves and as a “working board”, supplement the stretched resources of Doug and Michelle and co..  It’s an onerous ask of community volunteers, but without exception, your Museum directors have leapt into the breach, and continue to do so.  Hats off!

Lastly, the cup of our gratitude runneth over for the record support our donors contributed in the past year.  Nearly $600,000 came into the Museum coffers, making it possible to complete phase one of the renovations and move back in.  Thank you, donors and benefactors!  Your generosity is not just a virtue in and of itself, it also is inspiring others, and gives me confidence in being able to achieve our ambitious goals for the year ahead and beyond. 

Our most immediate goal is to complete the moving of the Museum’s vast collections back into our buildings at 55 Ontario.  That is job one for the first quarter and represents a massive logistical undertaking. 

Concurrently, the Board will be adopting a new Interpretative Plan (IP).  It will guide us in delivering visitor experiences that respond to the needs and wants of 21st century audiences.  From this document will flow a multi-year exhibit plan, which in turn will dovetail with event and activity programming.  Prepare to be inspired. 

On a parallel and very much related-track, the Museum has engaged the noted architectural firm +VG to develop concepts and costs for either expanding our existing structures from roughly 15,000 square feet to the 30,000 square feet called for in the Strategic Plan.  The fruits of their work should be available for review and public discussion towards the middle of the year.  Prepare to be excited. 

That’s but a taste of what lies ahead for your Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.  Stay well, fasten your seatbelts, and hang on for the ride!


chris west
Christopher West

Chair of the Board