Classic Canoeing Books

10:34 p.m. on May 17, 2018 (EDT)
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599 forum posts

The best book on canoeing I have ever read is Bill Mason's "Path of the Paddle". IT is primarily an instruction manual on how to paddle and how to navigate rivers. This book taught me much and helped me get my USCA "Moving Water instructor certification. This book also helped me on a few Canadian wilderness canoe trips in Ontario and Quebec.

If you know anything about the history of canoe paddling you can see the great influence of kayaking on improving canoe paddling. Early canoeing books were very short on paddling strokes compared to Bill's book.

Bill Mason's other book is "Song of the Paddle" and as the subtitle says, it is "An Illustrated Guide to Wilderness Camping". Outdated ad far as gear is concerned but good in every other respect and nice if you want to do retro canvas tent camping using Bill's Campfire Tent design.

Eric B.

10:00 a.m. on May 18, 2018 (EDT)
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3,507 forum posts

Classic 

"the Maine Guide Canoe"  Jerry Stelmok

"Canoeing with the Cree" Eric Seveid

Joanie and Gary McGuffin books

Verlon Kruger books

10:00 a.m. on May 18, 2018 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
3,507 forum posts

Classic 

"the Maine Guide Canoe"  Jerry Stelmok

"Canoeing with the Cree" Eric Seveid

Joanie and Gary McGuffin books

Verlon Kruger books

10:00 a.m. on May 18, 2018 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
3,507 forum posts

Classic 

"the Maine Guide Canoe"  Jerry Stelmok

"Canoeing with the Cree" Eric Seveid

Joanie and Gary McGuffin books

Verlon Kruger books

11:33 a.m. on May 18, 2018 (EDT)
733 reviewer rep
1,390 forum posts

I agree with the books mentioned, especially the Bill Mason books. I'll add "Expedition Canoeing" by Cliff Jacobsen. While Cliff has strong opinions about which is the best gear, some of which might be debatable(bent shaft vs. straight) the book has opinions of others. Kevin Callan is another author worth reading. I would further encourage reading accounts of the early explorers, particularly Samuel Black and Robert Campbell. Another good read is "The Survival of the Bark Canoe". Regarding Mason's gear and techniques, most are applicable today. I have two Baker tents(campfire tents) made to Mason's designs. I made the one I have in cotton(not canvas, Eric,but egyptian cotton, a completely different material) and one in coated nylon. Both have performed well on my long expeditions. After using more modern set ups, I reverted to Duluth packs with waterproof liners for soft goods, and a wannigan for hard goods. Blue barrels for food.

5:13 p.m. on May 18, 2018 (EDT)
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3,507 forum posts

Jacobsen's book "Expedition Canoeing" affected my paddling career more than all the other books put together.  It gave me the confidence to try some harder and longer trips. 

9:42 a.m. on May 21, 2018 (EDT)
271 reviewer rep
1,895 forum posts

Thank you all for talking about this book...I have some canoeing and kayaking I like to do this summer....

8:18 p.m. on May 21, 2018 (EDT)
318 reviewer rep
201 forum posts

Runes of The North by Sigurd F Olson is the canoeing book that captured me. Though not strictly about canoeing, to me its a must read by adventurers.

9:15 a.m. on May 22, 2018 (EDT)
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3,507 forum posts

An old friend of mine just passed away at age 96.  He had a degree in forestry from the U of Michigan in 1938.   When he was young he went on a 3 week canoe trip in No Minnesota in what is now the BWCA.  His outfitter was Sig Olson. "the snow she four feet wide, huh?"

8:08 p.m. on May 23, 2018 (EDT)
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599 forum posts

Erich,

My answer to "Bent shaft or Straight shaft?" was to use a bent shaft for covering many miles in flatwater and straight shaft for rapids.

Seemed I needed a straight shaft for rapids B/C I needed to be able to do cross over strokes at a second's notice whether in bow or stern. 

Unfortunately since moving to Nevada in '04 I haven't canoes, just sea kayaked. I miss canoeing and still have my paddles.

Eric B.

10:22 a.m. on May 24, 2018 (EDT)
733 reviewer rep
1,390 forum posts

Eric,I have friends who paddle bent shafts for long trips. From my perspective, bents work well for flat water and even some moving water. However, on any trip, one should have a spare paddle that will work for the most difficult water one will encounter. In my case, this usually means at least Class 2. So my paddle selection, is most often a T grip paddle for the hard stuff( a Mitchell) and a bass wood laminated square tip pear grip(Grey Owl Voyageur), which is a very light paddle. If the rapids are easier and I have large lakes, I will bring the Voyageur and drop the T grip in favor of a cherry Otter tail. The latter is a Grey Owl, but I have modified it by shaving the middle of the blade so it flexes there rather than at the throat. The issue with bents that I have, is that it is a paddle designed for forward movement. On long expeditions, I often have to back ferry on corners and brace and bents don't work well for either back ferries or braces. My preferred stroke for long distance is a Canadian stroke, as it is a very fluid stroke.

Erich

November 21, 2018
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