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Youth in a big canoe.
Photo credit: Priscilla Haskin

Introduction to Big Canoe Paddling Skills

Discipline: Canoeing Program: Big Canoe Stream: Skills Development

The Introduction to Big Canoe Paddling Skills introduces beginner paddlers to paddle alongside a crew of at least 5 others in calm sheltered waters.

Students are introduced to the basic paddling strokes and manoeuvres under the direction of their Big Canoe Leader/Captain.

At the end of the course students have the confidence and basic skills to join crew of others to venture out on short paddling adventures in these historically significant and beautiful canoes.

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Course Overview

Typical Course Length

3 hours minimum of instruction.

Course Topics

Safety and Rescue
  • Carrying a big canoe
  • Basic environment hazards (water/ wind/waves/weather) when to get off
  • Hypothermia & hyperthermia (being prepared)
  • Personal preparation (clothing, water, snacks, medication, etc.)
  • Transport Canada regulations
  • Leader/captain commands
General Paddling Skills
  • Enter and exit a canoe: dock or shoreline
  • Paddling in cadence
  • Switching sides
Paddling Strokes
  • Forward and reverse strokes
  • Check (stop)
  • Stationary low brace
  • Drop skeg
  • Optional strokes for the bow padders including draw and pry
  • How to hold a paddle
  • Paddler placement
  • Canoe trim and 5” freeboard
  • Forward & reverse paddling
  • Pivot and wide turns
  • Docking
  • Switching sides and placement
  • Stupping
  • What is a big canoe?
  • Paddle and canoe care
  • Understanding commands
  • Equipment for 1/2-day tour
  • Paddling within your ability
  • Paddlesmart
  • Leave no trace principles
  • Where to go from here (paddle courses and resources)
Course Prerequisites
  • None