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Leisure Canoeing

Leisure canoeing is a recreational aquatic activity involving paddling a small, open-topped boat. One or more participants sit or kneel and use single-blade paddles to propel the boat across the water. Paddlers typically use a "J-stroke" to generate power most efficiently. Some paddlers may wear braces or lightweight padding to allow for comfort and stability while kneeling. Recreational canoeing is a popular summer pastime on lakes, rivers, and oceans across Canada.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Canadian canoeing; C-boating

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Canoes have been used across the world for millennia for purposes of leisure, transportation, trade, or war, with the oldest identified canoe in the Netherlands dating to between 8040-7510 BCE. Canoes were a common mode of transportation for many Canadian First Nations. Following the arrival of European settlers, canoes were used as vehicles of transportation in the fur trade. As the fur trade declined, canoeing in a recreational form began to emerge. British settlers, who enjoyed sailing and rowing as recreation, began to include canoes in regattas. Canoeing as an organized sport began in 1866 at the Royal Canoe Club of London, with the first Canadian club, the Toronto Canoe Club, following in 1880.

Who takes part?

Males and females of diverse ages and ethnocultural backgrounds.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Leisure canoeing is typically a summer activity in the GTA.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Argonaut Rowing Club; The Boulevard Club; Hanlan Boat Club; Mississauga Canoe Club; Richmond Hill Canoe Club; Toronto Island Canoe Club; Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club

Cultural Significance

Canoes are entrenched in Canadian culture and are often used as a symbol of national identity, owing to the economic and social importance of canoes in Canada's precolonial and colonial periods. Canadians have also been successful at canoeing at the summer Olympics. Canada is home to some unique variations of canoe racing (e.g. war canoe and the Canadian C-4 boat) and is the only country which has a canoe museum.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre
    283 Queen’s Quay W
    Toronto, ON M5V 1A2
  • Toronto Adventures
    105 Riverwood Pkwy
    M8Y 4E4, ON Toronto
  • Hanlan's Point
    Hanlan's Point (Toronto Islands)
    Toronto, ON M5V 1A1
  • Toronto Island Canoe Club
    101 Cibola Avenue
    Toronto, ON M5J 0A2
  • Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club
    1391 Lakeshore Rd W
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C1
  • Mississauga Canoe Club
    31 Front St N
    Mississauga, ON L5H 2E1
  • The Boulevard Club
    1491 Lake Shore Blvd W
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C3
  • Argonaut Rowing Club
    1225 Lake Shore Blvd W
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C1

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