“The Manner of Makinge Their Boates,” The Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, From the Library at The Mariners’ Museum.


A canoe is a small craft that is propelled by someone paddling, facing the direction of movement. A canoe has an open top. A kayak is another kind of canoe, also paddled in a forward-facing manner, but with an enclosed top. Rowboats are paddled facing opposite the direction of movement.

Canoes developed in many different cultures and geographic locations. Early Polynesian explorers used outrigger canoes to travel from island to island. Native North Americans made dugout and birch-bark canoes to navigate the rivers. As European explorers came into contact with canoe-using peoples, they sometimes adapted native canoes for their own use. Some of the best examples of this happened in North America, when French explorers adapted the Algonkian style birch-bark canoe to use in their travels.