Canadian style paddling
Canadian style paddling was and is more or less a way of adapting a tandem canoe for solo paddling.
Tandems are often paddled by turning the boat around and sitting “backwards” on the bow seat. This allows the solo paddler to sit where the boat is narrower, so that the reach over the gunwale is less, and it is easier to get an efficient vertical stroke. Another advantage is it requires no additional seats or thwarts.
The disadvantages are that the unloaded boat is not in trim (it is quite bow light) and from this position it is generally not possible to get the paddle blade forward of the boat’s pivot point. That means that bow correction strokes such as C-strokes, bow draws, cross-bow draws, bow jams, Duffeks etc. are not feasible, and one is limited to stern correction strokes, like stern pries and draws, to steer the canoe. This works in flatwater, but may not work in whitewater.
An alternative is to sit close to the center of the canoe, typically right behind the center thwart/yoke. This allows the boat to be pretty well-trimmed and allows the use of both bow and stern turning strokes. The disadvantage is that most tandems are quite wide there and if one sits centered in the canoe, the reach to and over the gunwale is such that many people can’t get the paddle shaft close to vertical for an efficient forward stroke, or get both hands out over the water for effective turning strokes. Also, most tandems don’t have a seat in that position.
Canadian guides solved the problem by sitting with their bodies very close to the gunwale on their paddling side, kneeling with both knees essentially in the “chine” of the canoe and their heels tucked up underneath their butts. The canoe was paddled with a distinct heel to the paddling side, which made it much easier to get both hands out over the water. Heeling the boat also got both ends up out of the water, shortening the effective waterline and making a long tandem paddle more like a shorter solo canoe.
The disadvantages to this style are that this position may not be comfortable for some and cross-strokes cannot be carried out, although one can slide over to the other gunwale and switch paddling sides.
This style of paddling is well-demonstrated in Bill Mason’s videos, among other places.