A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe. 

PIERRE BERTON (1920-2004)

Kayaks and Canoes

A Man’s Boat

'Kayak' is Inuktitut for 'man's boat', so in a strictly etymological sense, you shouldn't have a women's kayak at the Olympics. Each hunter made his own, and helping yourself to another man's kayak was far, far worse than sleeping with his wife. The corresponding ‘woman's boat’ was an umiaq. Men did sometimes use the ladies’ boats for hunting walrus, but they were mainly used for transporting people and things rather than for hunting. And as transport vehicles, they were usually driven by women. Two women would drive, each rowing with one single-bladed oar; contrast to the kayak which is driven with double-bladed paddles.

Missouri means ‘town of the large canoes’ in Missouri Indian.


Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.


Originality is an unexplored territory. You get there by carrying a canoe. You can’t take a taxi.

American Indians hunted whales from canoes using bow and arrows.

Ancient Kayakers?

There is an interesting idea that Inuits occasionally managed to kayak their way to the Scottish coast. In fact, there is a boat in Aberdeen Museum which claims: ‘Esquimaux Canoe, in which a native of that country was driven ashore near Belhelvie [to the north of Aberdeen] about the beginning of the 18th century and died soon after landing.’ There's a certain amount of doubt - how could the Inuit get so far? Surely their boats were not suitable for such long travel? Might he simply have been picked up by a Scots fishing boat?

Canoe or Kayak?

The main difference between a kayak and a canoe is the position of the paddler and that kayakers have two blades on their paddles, compared with a canoeist's one. The true canoe is often called a ‘Canadian canoe’ in Britain, even though kayaks probably did originate in Canada and canoes probably didn’t.
Canoe polo is always played in kayaks rather than canoes. If you capsize during this game you have to grab your kayak and leave the pool. Sharpened paddles are also explicitly banned - which seems to imply that at one stage they were used.

Togo’s only Olympic medal was won by a kayaker who had only been to Togo once in his life.