Whitby paddleboarder, mental health advocate donating board from lakes crossings to Canoe Museum


Published February 28, 2024 at 11:47 am

Mike Shoreman
Mike Shoreman (and CP24's Nick Dixon) with the donated items on Breakfast Television Wednesday morning

Two years ago Mike Shoreman made history as the first person with a disability to cross all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard. In about ten weeks time he will BE history, or at least the board, paddle and other items associated with those epic voyages will be when the new-and-improved Canadian Canoe Museum holds its grand opening in Peterborough.

A lot has happened for Shoreman in the past five or so years. While he can never forget 2018 – a year in which the Whitby paddleboard coach was diagnosed with a neurological condition that left him paralyzed, with vertigo, hearing and vision loss, ultimately leading to depression and a mental health breakdown – the events that followed have been unforgettable.

Told he would never walk again, let alone get on a paddleboard, Shoreman overcame his fears, assembled a crack team of people who believed in him and crossed all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard in a single memorable summer.

Shoreman then transitioned from paddleboarder to mental health advocate and travelled the country taking about mental health issues and suicide prevention, especially involving young people, as well as speaking to organizations about corporate wellness and resilience.

Then there was the documentary – When Hope Breaks Through – which premiered at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts last September and Shoreman has been busy on the film festival circuit since, dressing up in black ties on occasion as he or his team were honoured for their accomplishment.

Now he and his paddleboard are being honoured by the canoe museum, which opens a brand new 65,000-square-foot museum and lakefront campus on Little Lake (on the Trent-Severn Waterway) on May 11.

“These items speak to a powerful story of disability, mental health and extraordinary perseverance and achievement,” said museum curator Jeremy Ward.

The new home to the museum will allow visitors to enter the front door, see the great dugouts of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest; the bark canoes of the Beothuk of Newfoundland; the all-wood and canvas-covered craft manufactured by companies with names like Chestnut, Lakefield and Canadian; and equipment used by modern testaments to resilience like Shoreman; and then go out the back door and go for a paddle on Little Lake.

“It’s an incredible honour that the paddle board and items from the Great Lakes crossings will have a new home at The Canadian Canoe Museum,” Shoreman told indurham. It’s the perfect place for these items to be displayed and used for educational purposes. I am thrilled the paddle board and items will have a permanent home in Canada.”

Shoreman made the announcement Wednesday morning on CP24’s Breakfast Television, also declaring a ‘retirement,’ at least temporarily, from paddleboarding while he continues his public speaking and mental health advocacy role.

“At this point my role is to share the story with learning outcomes geared towards organizations and educational institutions,” he said. “There will be more paddle boarding in some capacity but I am pleased to retire the board and my team and I are honoured that this has a new home.”

Asked if he can finally put his feet up after a busy six months promoting the film and his speaking engagements, Shoreman said there’s no time for that yet.

“No beach holiday! Busy spring ahead,” he said with a grin. “The film is now being used as an educational resource in organizations and educational institutions and it’s conference season. I’m heading to Alberta and Saskatchewan soon but don’t think it’s beachy there.”

Founded in 1997, the Canadian Canoe Museum’s collection now numbers more than 600 canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. The new building is a two-storey structure right on the lake which will include a dramatic 20,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall featuring a brand-new suite of exhibits, an integrated Collection Hall, a Lakefront Events & Education Centre with a sweeping view of the lake, an accessible library and research room and artisan and canoe-building studios for hands-on learning.

New Canadian Canoe Museum, opening May 11



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