Tickets are now available!
$10/member for a virtual ticket

Skip to content
Kids paddling a canoe as part of a waterfront canoe course.
Photo credit: Priscilla Haskin

Canoeing Basics

Discipline: Canoeing Program: Lake Canoe Stream: Skills Development

The Canoeing Basics course provides a preliminary foundation, knowledge and skills necessary for calm and close to shore lake paddling.

The course content focuses on basic skill development and safe paddling skills in a shorter period of time, typically an evening or half-day course.

Find a School  Search for a Canoeing Course  Find a Canoeing Instructor

Course Overview

Typical Course Length

2-4 hours of instruction.

Course Topics

Safety and rescue
  • Transport Canada regulations
  • Designated paddling area
  • Cold water concerns (hypothermia)
  • Heat (sun) related concerns (hyperthermia)
  • Environmental hazards
  • Expanding one’s skills
  • Buddy system
  • Help and huddle positions
  • Paddle Canada's lifejacket policy: always wear it!
  • Warm-up to reduce paddling injuries
  • Lifejacket selection
  • Canoe stability
  • Whistle signals
  • Canoe rescue options
  • Using throw bags
General Paddling Skills
  • Enter & exit canoe (shore or dock)
  • Balance and stability
  • Switching sides
  • Paddling in cadence
  • How to hold a paddle
Paddling Strokes
  • Forward and Reverse
  • Check (stop)
  • Draw (above water recovery)
  • Pry
  • J-stroke or rudder
  • Forward sweep stern only
  • Low brace
  • Drop Skeg
  • Balance: 3-point contact
  • Paddling positions
  • Forward paddling
  • Pivots
  • Turns under power (rectangular course)
  • Stopping
  • Basic canoe and paddle parts
  • Canoe selection and care
  • Personal outfitting
  • Canoe lifts and carries
  • Canoe outfitting
  • Safe paddling practices
  • Course limitations
  • Paddlesmart
  • Canoeing resources & local paddling clubs
Course Prerequisites
  • None