A while back I got a canoe from my sister in law and it had NO GUNWALES. I put some spruce one on it, but I had to do it insections because I couldn’t find any that were 14’ long. the center is a single 8’ piece and then 3’ ends. It is a 14’ WW canpoe with about 5" rockers. It is a Royalex canoe, and I just wondered if the canoe was river worthy without Gunwales. I am about to go on a 3 day trip with some good class III-IV rapids.
I can't imagine a canoe retaining its shape without gunnels. You might be able to get by with thinner gunnels and even with just inwales or outwales, but I don't think you can with no gunnels at all unless it was a dugout canoe.
Wrong forum. Try Advice, Suggestions
or try the Paddlers Discussion Forum. But you should know by now, you need the gunwales.