You are here

Canoe Sprinting

Canoe sprinting is a water racing sport in which participants attempt to paddle a small boat over a short course in the fastest time. 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. Races occur over a flat stretch of still water, at distances that range from 200-5000. Different competitions specify the number of paddlers.

Is this activity known by any other names?


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?

Canoe sprinting typically occurs in the summer 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?




Do you have any images/videos or other information that you would like to contribute to this activity profile? Please submit your additions.