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Kayak Racing

Kayak racing is a water sport in which paddlers race small boats over a course. Typically, participants use double-bladed paddles and face forward in a seated position. Kayak races can be individual, pair, or four-person crew competitions. There are two major types of kayak races: sprints and slalom. In sprints, participants paddle simultaneously over calm stretches of water, typically between 200m and 5000m, in an attempt to cross the finish line first. Slalom races involve maneuvering over rough water courses, and usually feature one racer at a time.

Is this activity known by any other names?


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

Kayaks were developed by Indigenous hunters in subarctic regions of the world, predominantly North America, Siberia, and Greenland. While primarily a hunting vessel, kayaks were sometimes used for transportation. Kayak racing became popularized and institutionalized in Canada by British colonists and rowing enthusiasts.

Who takes part?

Males and females of diverse ages and ethnocultural backgrounds.

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

In the GTA, kayak races are typically held in the summer months.

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

Kayaking is an important part of Inuit heritage. Kayaking is a sport which Canadians excel at in international competitions, including the Summer Olympic Games.


  • Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club
    1391 Lakeshore Rd W
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C1
  • Toronto Islands - Hanlan's Point Park
    9 Queens Quay W
    Toronto, ON M5J 2H3
  • Toronto Island Canoe Club
    101 Cibola Avenue
    Toronto, ON M5J 0A2
  • Argonaut Rowing Club
    1225 Lake Shore Blvd W
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C1
  • Mississauga Canoe Club
    31 Front St N
    Mississauga, ON L5H 2E1

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