Give Me a Canoe and Let Me Go

I’m going to take a minute to discuss one of my favourite modes of transportation: the canoe.

While the canoe may not be the subject of any of my research, or one of the factors in any of my mathematical equations, it’s still a very important method of transportation, and it formed the backbone of Canadian exploration and early trade. Let’s have a look at why canoes have hit the sweet spot of personal water transportation.

  • In terms of versatility of movement, canoes afford access to areas that are completely inaccessible to power boats. They ride shallow in the water, meaning they can cruise through almost any type of water and not leave a trace behind of their passing. This is both environmentally and logistically a bonus. They can also be portaged for distances far greater than is practical for motor boats.
  • In terms of utility, canoes can carry gear and allow longer trips that would not be possible with other manual watercraft like kayaks. This makes them ideal for exploration, or overnight camping trips.
  • In terms of speed, canoes provide a significant mechanical advantage over travel by foot. Most of the momentum gained during paddle strokes is kept until the next one, while almost no momentum is kept between steps while travelling by foot. This means that the average speed/energy input ratio is much higher, meaning you can achieve far greater distances both with the time you have available and the energy you have to expend.

There is very little of the typical ‘logistics’ discussion and thinking that can be applied to canoes, because they are a rare for of transportation (other than for recreation), but it’s important to realize that any mode of transportation that has been around as long as the canoe (almost 10,000 years) must have something going for it. After all, the canoe is one of the only ways you can enjoy something like this…

Kingsmere Lake


..and that’s worth writing about.

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