Canadian canoeing grows more and more popular as a feminine pastime each year, and the "Canader" - as it is dubbed by the Oxford undergraduate - is certainly an ideal craft for those who regard boating as an agreeable form of rest-cure, and who love to spend long, lazy hours on the water without the necessity for such systematic hard work as punting entails.
Then, again, a canoe can be employed on the tiniest of streams and back-waters, for, being almost flat-bottomed, it draws only a few inches of water, and in it one can negotiate all sorts of otherwise unnavigable streams, and enjoy the pleasure of exploration to the full, winding one's way to some delicious spot where over-hanging boughs of wild roses bend to greet the floating lilies on the water, and tall irises raise their heads amongst the sedges, to be reflected in the stream, there to spend a long, sunshiny morning with needlework or book.
To begin the stroke, the canoeist sits erect, bending slightly forward from the waist, so as to get a long reach forward before dipping the paddle two-thirds of the length of the blade into the water
A Canadian canoe, too, handled with skill, is by no means to be despised at a regatta, provided, needless to say, that the occupants can swim, for no one should ever enter a canoe who is unable to do so; and the writer well remembers a gay little craft, bearing the pleading title " Upset Me Not" upon her bows, winding in and out amongst the bigger craft at Henley when the crush was at its greatest quite unscathed ! It is possible to travel quite a long way in a Canader, and a ten-mile journey may be easily performed by two occupants, each provided with a paddle, in the course of a long summer afternoon.
An up-to-date Canadian canoe, as a rule, measures sixteen feet in length, with a thirty-two-inch beam, seven and a half inch freeboard, and draws four inches of water.
The middle of the stroke, in which the paddle is held in an almost perpendicular line with the canoeist's body
Single-bladed paddles are used, two of which should measure five and a half feet in length, while the third may, with advantage, be considerably longer.
The Cost of a Canoe
The cost of a good canoe, made in varnished cedar or mahogany, with the usual back support and three paddles complete, will be about eighteen pounds, while the usual carpet and cushions will probably cost a couple of pounds more.
The feminine owners of a canoe, as a rule, like to superintend the covering of the cushions themselves, choosing colours which will harmonise successfully with their summer gowns.
A sail made in red, brown, green, or white sailcloth, with a small mast which fits into the bows of the vessel, is an attractive and inexpensive addition to the canoeing outfit, and the cushion-covers should, of course, be chosen to match it.
It is not necessary to have a proper boathouse for a Canadian canoe; it can be kept in any dry shed that will contain it, and, as it weighs only about fifty pounds, a couple of girls standing one at either end can easily carry it between them to the water's edge and launch it without the necessity for a boatman's assistance.
Great care must be exercised in getting into the canoe in order not to upset it, and the passenger who is to sit in the bottom of the boat, amidships, should get in first to give it ballast. She must step well into the middle of the boat, and sit down at once, with her back up against the backboard, which has been previously placed against the third thwart, with a long cushion, which stretches from above the top of the bar and for some way along the bottom of the boat, to make a comfortable resting-place.
The second passenger, meanwhile, holds the vessel in to the side of the landing-stage while the first passenger seats herself. The seated passenger then holds in the boat while the second passenger gets in to take her place upon the cushion placed upon the end thwart, where, sitting high, she has a greater command over the little craft than she would have did she also sit upon the bottom of the boat.
A single passenger paddling a Canader would have to sit at the bottom of the boat, in order to prevent the likelihood of its overturning, and as her weight in the stern would tilt the fore part of the canoe right out of the water - presenting a surface to the wind which would make steering almost impossible - a big weight, or a bag of ballast, is usually carried in the forefront of the vessel.
The canoeing stroke is one that is easily mastered, and the illustrations will show exactly how it is performed, and how the canoeist in the stern sits when there are two inmates to the boat, though if she were alone the stroke would be exactly the same, only taken whilst sitting on the bottom of the boat.
To paddle the canoe, the canoeist grasps the paddle with both hands, one gripping it by the top of the handle, while the other holds it just above the blade. The lower hand, to a great extent, is the weight, and the upper hand the power, and during the drive of the stroke the upper hand moves less than half the distance travelled by the lower one.