Canoes and paddles

Take yourself back
to the 1890s and the Charles River in Boston. You’ll see tandem canoes with a decked-out damsel in the bow, complete with a parasol to keep the sun off her. She is not paddling.

In the stern we see a guy in a blazer, white slacks and a bowler hat. He is moving the whole shebang with a double bladed paddle.

Some years later, the woman put down the parasol and picked up a paddle. The guy in the back put down the double blade and picked up a single blade. Both wore sensible clothing for what they were doing.

I believe the next time we routinely saw double blades in canoes was after the solo canoe hit the paddling scene.


Actually, I just saw some photos of that sort of thing, couples in their Sunday best, with only the guy in the stern paddling. They all had single-blade paddles.

Hey that was me a few years later
At Norumbega Park right by the Totem Pole.

I was in the stern with my charcoal gray flannel pants, my pink and gray knitted argyle sweater, and my white bucks doing a proper “J” stroke while my pretty young damsel was in the bow. It was love (of paddling) at first sight.

jack L

The single canoe paddle excels
in control,


the double canoe/kayak paddle excels in consistent power.

I’ll profess my ignorance,
until I visited this website I had only knew of one person who used a kayak paddle in a canoe. That bein’ said I ain’t a boat snob. So I say “try it out and see what you like.” Who cares what other folks think. I know I like kayakin with two blades and I like c1in’ and canoein’ with one. As far as bein’ a Nancy, we used to say in jest “twice the paddle, half the man.” Total macho bs but I had to compensate for being slower and cause I could barely walk after kneelin’.

I’ll pick a double everytime in the
tidal flats of the Everglades. Heck there isn’t a single blade around that won’t pillory in the mud when there is six inches of water under the boat.

On Lake Superior I ignored the double. I used a little Zav bent shaft single for most of the 250 miles.

Agreed…things are way more precise with the single.

It’s a matter of preference, period.
Canoes have been paddled with double paddles to a lesser or greater degree since at least the 19th century (the Rob Roy, the Wee Lassie, early racing canoes, etc.).

Kayaks have been paddled with single and double blades since God knows when by the Inuit and other indigenous peoples.

Just use what you like and forget about it. Enjoy canoeing. And if you like to paddle using an eight-foot pine 2X4 from the Home Despot, well, so be it.

You must have been there at mid tide
Heck, at low tide, you need to get out of the boat, put on a pair of snow shoes (so you don’t sink up to you hips) and pull the boat!

Jack L

the Magic of the Canoe

anybody who thinks there’s no Magic in a double blade hasn’t seen Karen Knight (or any other highly skilled paddler) kayaking. The magic is in the skill of the paddler rather than the tool they use.

I’ve never been more than a slam bam get it done double blader. So I certainly feel the Magic more with my single blades.

I’ll argue that folks double blading a canoe are less interested in developing that skill than they are at getting it done. Which is why I’ve never seen Magic from a double blade canoeist. But I’d be surprised if there are no double blade canoeists who find the Magic.

As the previous poster notes it really does come down to personal preference.

But I’ll still point and laugh at anybody double blading an open boat.

Unless they show me the Magic.