3 Fascinating Facts about the History of Canoes

Canoe is a light, narrow boat pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled with a paddle or paddles. These seagoing boats used widely in many water sports today were first developed thousands of years ago by the Caribs. It is a fun recreational activity that is often enjoyed by everyone from young children to adults and senior citizens!


Origin of the word “Canoe” 

There are two theories regarding the origin of the term “canoe”. One theory posed is that the term is derived from the african word kenu which means “dugout”. Others claim the word is of an Arawak origin: originally spelled “canoa” then anglicized as the word “canoe”. 


Here are 3 facts you won’t believe about the history of Canoes: 

  • Archaeologist have discovered the remains of a dugout canoe which puts the age of the first canoes to more than 8000 years old. However, nobody knows exactly when canoeing started and when the first canoe was built but, it is believed the canoes were developed by North American natives. 


  • Before the evolution of canoes, they were used as a means of transportation to get from one island to the next, made from bark and hollowed out tree trunks; they were light enough to be portaged, yet they could carry huge lots of cargo. A factor that made the canoes recognized was that, although they are vulnerable to damage from rocks and other materials in the water, they are easily repaired. 


  • Canoes were used by The French to establish the fur trade(worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur) and played a significant role in the exploration of North America. Many of the canoes used by fur traders could carry a capacity of up to 2400 kilograms along with several crew members. A french missionary said that “The convenience of these canoes is great in these waters, full of cataracts or waterfalls, and rapids through which it is impossible to take any boat…” 


 Today, canoes have evolved and are hardly used as means of transportation but, most commonly as water sports.  

 Currently, the term has been confused with another which is quite similar known as kayaking. Along with having two different histories there are a number of differences between the two. The most eminent being that canoes are open top boats whilst kayaks are closed top boats. 

 Places where the canoe played a significant role in their history, still recognize them as an important theme in their culture and some still use the canoe as a means of transportation with a few new additions.