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Canoeing In Canada

The Canoe – also known as the open canoe – has been allowing river enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the Canadian rivers for centuries. Canoeing in Canada is a popular pastime in the country for both visitors and residents and the sites you will be privy to as you slowly make you way over quiet lakes with moose standing within touching distance truly brings you back to nature. A Canadian canoe trip is the perfect answer to a less commercial vacation.

Canoeing expeditions in Canada are great for the tourism dollars they bring in, making the country a very open and friendly place for the enthusiasts. The lakes are pristine and perfect for sliding through any time of day and the rivers offer wide ranges of difficulty, from simple river traversing to white water rapids. Canoeing can be done by a whole family each with their own boat or members sharing one or it can be done with just a couple of friends needing some quiet time in the country. Without canoeing, as well as kayaking and white water rafting, much of the wild beauty of Canada would never be explore or enjoyed by anyone other than the wildlife that lives on it. If you want to experience some of Canada’s culture, heritage, and beauty, then you will want to take a canoeing expedition that will allow you to visit villages that seem lost in time, see moose and bear on the rivers, and maybe even experience the Northern Lights. For more information about other ways to travel the rivers and lakes, please read Rafting in Canada and Kayaking in Canada.

Canoes are different from kayaks, something many people don’t quite realize. They are paddled using a single blade whereas a kayak uses a double blade, or they can be poled, sailed, gunnels bobbed or roped in order to provide propulsion if needed.. The very first canoes that were made by the Native Americans in Canada and the USA made their canoes from a cedar frame covered by a birch bark skin. They were used for transporting people and goods and some of the largest canoes on record were between 25 and 40 feet long. Their style and functionality varied and they were used to harvest wild race or race to war. Today canoes are made of plastic, aluminum, or fiberglass and seeing these vehicles on the rapids of Canada does return it to its roots and heritage.

Canoes come in two types. The K-boat – more commonly referred to as a kayak – has a closed deck, meaning there is a spot for the kayaker to sit in and the rest of the boat is closed to the water. It is a single person craft that is propelled through the water by a double bladed paddle. The C-boat, the common canoe, has an open deck and can seat up to three people – or one person with a lot of gear. They can be made from just about any material and weigh accordingly. Approximately 17 feet long, a canoe is propelled by a paddle with a single blade.

Canada is the only country in the world with a canoe museum. The Canadian Canoe Museum opened up in 1960 when a friend presented a dugout made around 1890 to Professor Kirk Wipper, a man who made the history of the canoe into a story that kept people intrigued. Today there are over 600 canoes and kayaks in the Museum from around the world, presenting the most comprehensive collection of boats in one place.

If you have never gone canoeing before, then you will want to book a Canadian canoe tour with a licensed outfitter and tour guide company. The Canadian canoeing outfitters will help you choose the right size canoe for you and your family and they start you out on one of the many calm and beautiful lakes in Canada so you practice paddling, the most important part of running a canoe. They will also instruct you on canoe safety, how to keep it upright and how to maneuver it through slightly faster running water, such as gentle flowing river. Advanced canoeists may go for some white water canoeing, which takes plenty of experience to do.

Canoeing in Canada includes sites that you can simply drive to or more exotic ones that require you and your equipment being flown into. These sites are great if you want to take a multi-day trip that requires canoeing, hiking, camping, fishing, and simply roughing it in the Canadian outback. No matter what you do, you should remember to bring your camera. It’s not every day that you get within arm’s length of a moose.

How you choose your vacation will depend on your skill level and the type of water you want to traverse. Here are the most common water types you will find in Canada and they can help you base your decision on the trip you want accordingly:
  • Class A: still water of a lake.

  • Class I: rapids that are smooth with clear waterways, the occasional sand bank, gentle curves and the challenge of paddling around bridges and other obstacles.

  • Class II: moderate with medium to quick water, some regular waved rapids but clear and open passage between rocks and ledges with maneuvering required. Best handled by intermediate canoeists who can maneuver canoes and read water.

  • Class III: moderately difficult with higher and irregular waves, rocks, eddies and the ability to run. Open canoes without flotation bags will have difficulty and are best left to those with expert skills.

  • Class IV: difficult with long and powerful rapids, standing waves, souse holes and boiling eddies, powerful and precise maneuvering required, and visual inspection needed. Cannot be run in canoes unless the craft is decked or properly equipped with flotation bags and advanced preparations for possible rescue work is important.

  • Class V is extremely difficult with long and violent rapids, river obstructions, big drops, steep gradients and violent currents. Can be run only by top experts in specially equipped whitewater canoes, decked craft, and kayaks.

  • Class VI should be left to only paddlers of Olympic ability and high experience levels. Can be run only by top experts in specially equipped whitewater canoes, decked craft, and kayaks.
Your Canadian canoe expeditions requires certain safety precautions, such as warm clothing, sunscreen that is waterproof, wet suit or other warm regular clothing for gentle trips, paddling jacket, shoes that are made for water wear but comfortable on land, shoes for hiking, light weight tent, sleeping bag, and pad, and of course, the camera. You should always be strong in your ability to swim and if not, should stick to lower classes of canoeing. Listening to your guide is imperative as they know what they are doing. Never select a trip that is out of you class range or age and wear your lifejacket and helmet if required at all times.

Some of the best Canadian canoeing destinations that are available for all levels of enthusiasts include:
  • Athabasca Sand Dunes on the south shore of Lake Athabasca. Perfect of canoeists of all ages and abilities.

  • Batoche National Historic Site and Wanuskewin is a fun adventure off the South Saskatchewan River that involves visiting historical sites, a night camping in a tipi, and then paddling down the Kisiskachiwun River.

  • Bloodvein River is an 8 or 15 day trek into some of the lushest boreal forest in Canada.

  • Churchill River offers an 8 day vacation with easy rapids, lakes, and 105 km of beautiful waterways perfect for both novices and seasoned canoeists.
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