"Canadian style"

What is it and why does one use it? I’ve heard references to this style of paddling, but being new here, haven’t a clue as to what it is. Can someone paint me a picture?

Ya gotta say “eh” after each stroke!



Watch the video clips at the bottom of the page – very elegant!

Canadian Style

– Last Updated: Jul-30-06 10:57 AM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

It be a solo technique dat one paddles wit de canoo heeled or leaned over... eh! Ah' me'self prefer paddlin' Canadian.... eh! Takes a bit ta larn' but once ye do it is a beautiful thin' ta behold an' quite efficient ta boot....eh! Best place (other than someone doing it in person)ta see this done is in the videos 'Path Of The Paddle' by the late Bill Mason and his daughter Becky Mason's video 'Classic Solo Canoeing' which you saw in the short Redcanoe video clips dat Angstrom linked you to.. eh! Thaar be places here in de US dat sells dem videos fer alot cheaper than you get fro' Canada (postage be murder fro' Canada).

Fat Elmo ... eh!

I thought
you had to have a beer in your hand eh?

Canadian style
As the pictures show it is characterized by kneeling in the bilge and leaning the canoe over to the paddling side.

In Canadian you usually paddle a tandem solo. But the same techniques can be used in a dedicated solo if it has enough beam.

In the US Canadian style has evolved into “Freestyle” paddling.

But why?
OK, so that’s what it is. Now, why? Why would you paddle Canadian style? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

You mean, other than
that this has got to be the most beautiful paddling I’ve ever seen?

I have no idea. I’m a kayaker. But wow…ballet is right.


paddling closer to the water is easier, and the canoe becomes

more controllable because of the changed waterline shape.


kneeling that way is not easy to do for a long time,

can be not stable enough for paddling in waves,

and cross strokes are difficult or impossible.

Try it…
Watch it and try it, you’ll see. That’ll answer yer question 'bout dat.

Fat Elmo

Kiwi’s terminology & why does it work?
In New Zealand, when I was inquiring into renting boats, liveries would differentiate between canoes and Canadian canoes. I think they might call kayaks canoes, and Canadian canoes are open boats. The Old Down Discovery, was a Canadian Canoe.

I’m really not sure what Kiwi’s are differentiating in using the “Canadian” modifier. Once I was sure I was renting an open boat, I didn’t push for definitions.

I didn’t know leaning to one side was “Canadian.” I do lean the boat, especially the bigger ones, while paddling open water. I think I remember being told that a wave forms under the high side of the bow and pushes the bow back toward the paddle-side of the boat. I have never understood the hydrodynamics of it, but leaning definately reduces the need for a correction stroke. Paddling a kayak, the boat turns away from the side you lean into the water. Poling the canoe, it acts like the kayak, the side I push down carves a turn toward the elevated side. But for some reason, when paddled, the lean induces a correction back toward the pushed-down side.

Observations only–I have no explanations.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

The Brit influence and leaning the canoe
I suspect in NZ calling a kayak a canoe has to do with the British influence as that is the way they do it. By definition, a kayak IS a canoe but a decked canoe isn’t a kayak!

The term “Canadian canoe” refers to an open canoe without a deck.

By leaning a wide beamed tandem over to one side (the “on” side or paddling side) the paddler reduces the waterline and makes the canoe shorter. Better control is maintained,even in windy conditions.

Omer Stringer (Father of Canadian style paddling), said on a windy lake he could lean a canoe away from the wind and the effect of the wind on the bottom and bilge would actually “sail” the boat upwind!

Canadian style
When paddling Canadian style, the paddler faces the stern seat with his derrier leaning against the back of the bow seat (or quarter thwart). The paddler positions himself on one side of the canoe heeling the boat. This results in the paddler being closer to the water for more efficient paddling and because the canoe is heeled, it creates rocker which is desired for turns. This technique is used by solo paddlers in both solo and tandem canoes.

I favor a kneeling position. My knee on my paddle side is usually against the wall with my other knee in various positions depending on how much rocker I want: positioned next to my other knee for more rocker for turning and towards the middle of the canoe when I am seeking better tracking.

The rocker allows for the use of some sexy and classy strokes such as the inside turn (turning the canoe towards the paddle side) and the one-handed pry (turning the canoe toward the opposite side). These strokes are demonstrated by Becky Mason on the website listed on a message above (the first video on the bottom left of her web page). Both strokes allow a quick 360 degree turn on a dime. Another stroke that requires rocker is the running pry for. These strokes and the Canadian stroke require the paddler to be close to the water.

I drive a 16’ Nova Craft Prospector (red with ash gunwales and webbed seats - it is beautiful thing). I find that with this boat (and others) paddled with appropriate rocker reduces the number of correction strokes required. On average, I only correct every 3-4 stokes. The boat corrects itself the other times.

Positioned Canadian style with the paddler on the lee side, a Prospector heeled over “sails” when slicing into the wind. The wind hits the heeled side of the canoe and forces from the wind are transferred forward as the rear and opposite side are in the water leaving the front with the least resistance. It is great feeling when the wind catches you, helping you move forward. You have to keep paddling of course.

Enough! Just a small introduction to Canadian style.

Fade Away…
IMHO, when sitting in the stern, the natural paddle stroke follows the shape of the canoe and is a very natural thing. When paddling solo or close to the center, the canoe sides don’t “fade away” which causes the paddler to “reach” beyond what is comfortable. Positioning yourself to the side allows you to be closer to the water line like if you were in the stern and is just more comfy… I have always referred the “J Stroke” to be Canadian…

It be nice…

– Last Updated: Aug-01-06 1:23 PM EST –

ta see thaar still be some folk who appreciate "The Fine Art Of Canoeing".

Fat Elmo

always have always will.

Solo canoes and single blades, as it should be…

The Canadian Stroke is about the return

– Last Updated: Aug-01-06 4:09 PM EST –

Assuming that by "style" you mean the Canadian stroke.
The Canadian stroke not just how you kneel in the canoe or what you paddle. After the forward stroke, the blade is turned parallel to the canoe without prying and returned forward underwater while putting mild pressure towards the outside. This counteracts the foward stroke's desire to turn the canoe. It's is also known as the knifing-J.
It's somewhat more efficent than both the J-stroke and the Indian stroke because those strokes tend to rob more power when correcting the turn.

Candain style
"Canadian style" refers to the way you are positioned in the canoe when paddling solo.

The “Canadian stroke” is a correction stroke which does what a J stroke does but more efficiently.

Man, did I learn alot
Thanks swabies!

which Canadianne?
98 % that I have seen are using the North american touring techinique aka sit and switch.

also 95% were going past me when they used it…