Canoes were developed over the course of thousands of years by the native peoples of North America. The word 'canoe' originiated from the word 'kenu' - meaning dugout. These seagoing boats were used by the Carib Indians of the Caribbean islands, and were made of large tree trunks which were shaped and hollowed, and were strong enough to travel between theislands.
North American Indians are responsible for creating the more well-known version of the canoe - a frame of wooden ribs covered with the lightweight bark of birch trees, and sometimes elm or cedar trees. These boats, which have remained virtually unchanged in design for thousands of years, proved to be ideal for travelling the numerous streams, rivers and lakes of North America.
Birchbark was the perfect choice to build canoes because, not only was it lightweight and smooth, but it was also waterproof and resilient. As well, the birch tree was found in almost every area of Canada, except for the western subarctic region, where spruce bark had to fill in as a substitute.
The joints of the canoes were held together by the root of the white pine and then made waterproof byapplying hot pine or spruce resin.
As the commerce of early North America grew, so did the need for canoes. The fur trade became so large, in fact, that the French set up the world's first known canoe factory at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, around the year 1750. Many of the canoes that fur traders used were capable of carrying a crew of up to 12 people and a cargo weighing around 2400 kilograms.Canoe types
Being a discriminate canoe consumer is tough because the marketplace is flooded with a great variety of products. There are red canoes and blue canoes, used canoes and new canoes, wood canoes and tinny canoes, quick canoes and slow canoes, and boats that don't deserve the name canoe.
Choosing a canoe would be easy if the least expensive items were the worst quality and the mostexpensive the best; unfortunately, this is not the case. There are as many products of differing quality and construction as there are products of varying design and shape, and one cannot depend on the retailer to make the right decision every time.
There are retail "salers" lurking out there in retail land who will sell you the most expensive item - whether you need it or not - sometimesthrough some whacko sales pitch, but more often through consumer ignorance - buyers who have not seriously considered what type of canoe they would like to own.
At one time, the only canoe available was made of wood and bark. Demand for canoes eventually saw the bark being replaced by canvas which canoe builders stretched over the traditional frame of wooden ribs (usually cedar), and planks.
Wood/canvas canoes reigned supreme until the end of World War Two, when the technicians in the now-quiet Grumman Aircraft Company turned their aluminum airplane fabricating talents to canoe building. The advent of the aluminum canoe marked the beginning of a revolution in the construction of canoes which continued with various incarnations of the fiberglass canoe, the plastic canoe and nowKevlar canoes and canoes made from other exotic, space age fibers such as graphite, carbon and Royalex.
Canoes made solely of wood are readily available in today's market. They are perhaps the most aesthetically appealing of all canoes, but, with looks, usually comes price. Lapstrake canoes built along the lines perfected by classic canoe craftsman J. Henry Rushton are still available,but the time and expertise necessary to fashion wooden planks into a wooden hull is such that these boats are prohibitively expensive, not to mention fragile. Wood canoe building kits are available for ambitious home handy persons to build "stripper" canoes which are similar to the all-wood canoes of the past, except that the thin planks of cedar are covered with transparent layers of...