The history of the canoe

Kanotens historia

Canoes, in the form of for example kayaks , Canadians or fishing kayaks , take you easily out on the water, around the nearest headland or out to the farthest skerries. You can glide along the surface of the river to see what's behind the next bend, or make your way out to that little islet you've always wondered about. It's a way to get really close to the water, to experience nature without being disturbed by engine noise. There are a few rentals in Stockholm that offer canoeing, such as Hellasgården and Lida outdoor garden .


From the hollowed-out tree trunks of the Stone Age, canoes have developed in all possible directions in different parts of the world. In the South Seas, where sails are common, it usually has a so-called outrigger, a kind of smaller "extra hull" attached with two wooden arms to the main hull. These canoes are extremely fast and maneuverable. The Polynesians are considered to have made longer voyages across the open seas than any other indigenous people.


In North America, the aborigines mostly used what we today "Canadians", a wooden skeleton dressed with fists. They were open boats with upturned prows that were propelled with a single paddle. The Canadians were so light that a single man could carry them, but loaded so much that the Europeans in North America began to manufacture them themselves for use across the continent for, among other things, the fur trade.


Farther north, where the water was colder, various forms of kayaks became dominant, covered boats, made of sealskin stretched over a frame of wood or whalebone, and with very small cockpits. Here the two-bladed paddles became the usual ones. The kayak is most associated with the Inuit in Greenland, while the slightly larger Baidarka was used in the Aleutians off Alaska. Both were used for hunting, among other things, seals, and since very few Inuit knew how to swim, they had a technique to turn the kayak the right way when it capsizes with the help of the body and the paddle, so-called "rolling" or Eskimo swing. Do you want to learn to do an Eskimo turn yourself? Then take a course in Eskimo swing with us at Långholmen !

Modern times

Modern paddling has evolved over the years to include a range of different craft: racing canoes, kayaks, Canadians, fishing kayaks, stand up paddle boards (SUP) , air kayaks (inflatable kayaks) , sailing canoes, dragon boats and surf skis.

Today, kayaks are usually made of various plastic or composite materials and are equipped with rudders or skids, while Canadians are also made of wood or aluminum sheet. Modern kayaks are stable and can handle both mirror-like water surfaces and high waves at sea, while Canadians, which are more sensitive to wind, are better suited for rivers and lakes.

Canoeing is today a rapidly growing outdoor activity with rental , beginner courses and guided tours all over the country. More and more people are discovering the advantages of the canoe: it is quiet, light, environmentally friendly and can navigate shallow water where boats cannot enter. It is also easy to transport on a car roof. Our long coast with its archipelagos, and our many lakes and waterways, in combination with the right of the public, make Sweden the ideal country for paddling in all forms.