All about the canoe

Canoes have been used all over the world for approximately 10,000 years as man took to the water to discover new lands. The word canoe comes from the Carib kenu, meaning dugout. The oldest known canoe is the Pesse canoe, which was found in the Netherlands and constructed around 8200 and 7600 BC. There have been excavation digs in Denmark that have revealed canoes and paddles constructed circa 5300 and 3950 BC. People indigenous to the Americas built canoes from bark. These canoes were typically constructed from a light wooden frame that was skinned with birch bark. The canoes of these times only weighed approximately 23 kilograms despite being up to 14 feet in length, which meant they could carry plenty of cargo, even in the shallowest of waters, yet still be portable enough to carry. Although these canoes, and even modern day variants, are easily damaged by rocks, they are easy to repair thanks to their simplistic design.

European immigrants saw how fantastic canoes were for traversing spans of water and they quickly gained a key role in the exploration of North America. Records show that in 1615, Samuel de Champlain canoed as far as the Georgian Bay while Rene de Brehant de Galinee explored the Great Lakes 54 years later in 1669.Native Americans were huge fans of canoes and they built many different types depending on the job required. For example, they built canoes that were suitable for the coean, some for whale hunting and some for salmon fishing. Washington State’s Quinault tribe even created a shovel-nose canoe with double bows that could slide over logjams, making t perfect for river travel.Canoes started to be made from wood and canvas instead of birch on wood by the 19th century. These canoes were made by first building a body f planks and ribs and fastening to it an external waterproofed canvas shell. Boat builders Chestnut Canoe Company, E.M. White Canoe, Old Town Canoe, and Peterborough Canoe Compan in New Brunswick were the pioneers of this new build.

John MacGregor was a travel writer and philanthropist and he is credited with creating the first sailing canoes. Canoes were traditionally used as a method of transport, but MacGregor had other ideas and he helped them gain popularity as recreational and sporting watercraft.MacGregor founded the Royal Canoe Club in London in 1866 and became its Captain and then he founded the American Canoe Association in 1880. MacGregor increased the canoe’s popularity in his books, including his 1866 musings “A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe” and and is seen as a pioneer in the canoeing world. The 1924 Paris Olympics saw canoeing take place for the first time. Sprint canoe was a demonstration sport and 12 years later, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, sprint canoe become an Olympic discipline.

1936 Berlin Olympics canoeing

Ten years later, the International Canoe Federation was formed and to this date is the umbrella organization of all the world’s national canoe organizations.