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Canoe Marathon

Canoe marathon is a water racing sport in which participants paddle, and sometimes carry, a small boat over long distances. 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. In canoe marathon, participants race long distances of over 30km (longer races are hundreds of kilometres and take place over multiple days). In addition to paddling, some courses require participants to portage (carry the boat and all of its supplies over land).

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 marathong typically occurs in the summer in areas near the GTA.

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

Muskoka River X

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.


  • Muskoka River X
    1755 Valley Rd
    Hunstville, ON P1H 1Z8

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