TRIP PLANNING - Algonquin Canoe Company
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Be Prepared!

Take a course

Flat water canoeing can be very tricky for a first timer. Knowing where to center your weight and proper paddle strokes will make your experience less frustrating and way more enjoyable! NEVER attempt to shoot a rapid without taking a course. It may look peaceful and lovely, but its strength is nothing to play around with. Knowing how eddy’s work and what obstacles to avoid is lifesaving information.


The Algonquin Canoe Company offers a 3 hour introductory course to flat water kayaking only.  For other courses please get in contact with the following:

The Ontario Recreational Canoeing Association (ORCA)

The Madawaska Kanu Centre

Choosing a canoe

The Hull is the largest and most colorful part of a canoe. The hull can be made of Kevlar, Fiberglass, Royalex (ABS), Polyethylene (plastic), Wood or Aluminum. These materials all have their own advantages.

Fiberglass Composite is a material made up layers of woven fabric and resin. These canoes are stiff, light and fast. Canoes made of this material are generally used on flat water because of their speed which leads to a smooth and efficient ride.

Kevlar Composite is a material made of woven fabric that is 5-10 time stronger than an equal weight of steel; however, it can not with stand much impact or abrasion. Kevlar canoes are generally the lightest, being 20% lighter than fiberglass, therefore making it a great canoe for a flat water trip with many portages.

Royalex (ABS) canoes have two parts to them bonded by heat treatment, the outer layer is made up of plastic and vinyl and the inner layer is rigid (ABS) foam. Canoes made of this material are tough and durable and most often the canoe of choice for whitewater paddling. Though it is a heavier canoe it can withstand much more impact and abrasion than fiberglass and kevlar. It is heavier than fiberglass and kevlar but lighter than wood, polyethylene and aluminum.

Polyethylene (plastic) canoes are durable and low-cost, best for recreational paddling. These canoes are not very rigid and very heavy, they can warp quite easily in the sun or water, however they require very little maintenance.

Wood canoes were very popular in the earlier days since that’s what material was available. Now, most wooden canoes are custom made and are as much a work of art as a joy to paddle. They are very expensive and heavy; and require a lot of maintenance however they are quite versatile and can last a long time if properly cared for.

Aluminum canoes are also a canoe of the past. They are quite heavy and slow in the water, however are fairly durable and low-maintenance. These canoes are best used for recreational paddling on flat water.

The Yoke is located in the middle of the canoe and used as a shoulder rest when portaging the canoe over one’s shoulders, typically made of wood.

The Thwart(s) provide stability for the canoe and can be used as a hand-hold when portaging the canoe. Depending on the length, a canoe can have one or two thwarts, typically made of wood.

Gunwales are what surround the canoe at the top of the hull and is used to connect and secure the thwarts, yoke, seats and decks of the canoe, typically made of plastic

The Decks are plastic pieces on the top of hull at the Bow and Stern (ends) of the canoe, they join up with the Gunwales.


Before using a canoe you should always check:

-the hull for damages such as scratches, punctures and bends

-The yoke, thwarts, and seats are sturdy and the bolts are tight

All canoes require

1 PFD per passenger

1 Spare paddle

1 Buoyant Throw Rope , 15 ft long

1 Bailer or Pump

1 whistle or sound signaling device

In addition, other safety equipment such as float bags and helmets can be used.

16 vs 17 ft canoes

16 feet

-weeklong trip or less

-better in rapids



17 feet

-trips longer than 1 week

-holding a third person

-faster on flat water

Clothing and Fabrics

Being prepared for any kind of weather is vital. Hypothermia is the number one cause of death in boating accidents than drowning. Wearing the right clothing will reduce  this risk. One rule, leave your cotton at home! Garments made from wool and synthetic materials such as polypropylene will keep you warm, even when wet. Unlike cotton, they don’t use your body heat to dry and most are fairly quick-drying.  Sleeping bags should also be made of this material and kept in a dry bag, packing 1 set of extra clothes in this bag is also a good idea!

For multi-day trips make sure to have:

  • Polypropylene tops and long underwear
  • One set of fuzzy fleece/wool  sweater and pants
  • Nylon pants and/or shorts
  • Wool socks
  • One rain suit


For day trips; pack one set of clothes to bring with you and one change of clothes kept in your car.



Avoid anything with an open toe. Injuries do occur, preventing the worst is necessary! A pair of running shoes you don’t mind getting wet will do, but do pack a pair of closed toe sandals.


Besides the basic needs of any camping trip (ex: sleeping necessities, PFDs, food and cooking kits) these very useful items are often overlooked:


  • Spare paddles
  • First Aid kit
  • Waterproof matches
  • Biodegradable cleaning products
  • Compact single burner stove with fuel
  • A canoe repair kit
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Portable hand saw
  • Bear mace
  • Satellite phone or other emergency system

In our store, we carry outdoor clothing and camping gear designed to keep you warm, dry and safe. If you need any help, we’ll be happy to answer your questions and offer you suggestions.


River Signals

Communication with your group members while out on the water is important. High winds, rain and gushing waters can make whistles hard to hear. Here are a few signals to know:

Everything is clear, Im OK: Paddle or arm extended vertically in the air. Another signal for this is tapping the top of your head.

Channel clear on one side only:  Paddle held horizontally in one hand with the blade pointing the direction of the safe side.

Stop, danger ahead, do not proceed: Paddle held horizontally over your head with 2 hands. Other signals would include 3 whistle blasts, 3 light flashes, 3 fires or 3 sticks held up.