Welcome to the 2018 season

Our website will shortly be updated so that you can book and pay for your paddling online. Until then, reach us by phone, or by email at enquiries@chesterkayakhire.co.uk, where there will always be a prompt and friendly reply. See you on the river soon!

Tel: 01244 422007

History of the canoe

Canoes have been developed over thousands of years, mainly North America. Canoe comes from the Carib word for dug-out, which is ‘kenu’. This term was given to a seagoing boat used by Native Americans in the Caribbean Islands. They were typically made from the trunks of large trees, which were shaped and then hollowed out. Canoes are primitive yet they have been constructed elegantly and have ranged from 3m to more than 30m. They have also been made from logs, tree bark and animal skins in the past. Along with being used for transportation and trade, they were often used in war.

The modern version of the canoe

The idea of the canoe that many people have these days was created by the North American Indians. They made their canoes from a frame made of wooden ribs which they covered with lightweight bark – often from birch, elm and cedar trees. They proved to be an excellent way for travelling the many lakes, rivers and streams all over North America and as such, the design has not changed in the thousands of years since.

Birch bark was chosen because of the fact that it is light and smooth, along with being very resilient and water proof. The birch tree was also easy to get hold of and it was found in all regions of Canada. Where it could not be found, spruce was used as a substitute.

The canoes’ joints where put together and held using white pine root, this was then water-proofed with the resin of the spruce or hot pine. Of course commerce in North America grew and so did the demand for canoes. The first ever factory for making canoes was built in Quebec at the Trois-Rivieres in 1750. Fur traders relied on canoes and the ones they used carried as many as 12 people, along with cargo of around 2400 kilograms.

Different types of canoes

There are basically two different types of canoes. The first of which is the K-boat, otherwise known as the kayak. This is a closed dock vessel and is typically designed to hold a single person, with the person propelling the vessel using a paddle which has a blade at both ends. The second is the C-boat, which is also known as the Canadian. This is generally made from many different materials, including wood and Kevlar. These canoes can range from around 17 feet in length and the weight is dependent on the materials used for its design. This type generally holds two people, with both using a single-bladed paddle.

The history of canoeing in the Canadian wilderness has a cast of thousands. Some people say that Bill Mason, one of the country’s most respected naturalists, is the field’s main expert, but before Bill, there were a group known by the press as ‘The Voyageurs’, named after the earliest fur traders. While they went about their canoeing with little fanfare, what they did at the time has influenced thousands of paddlers since.