5 Cool Canoe Facts

5 interesting takeaways from Mark Neuzil’s new book, Canoes: A Natural History in North America

A really old canoe was found in MN
In 1934, a family building a dock in Lake Minnetonka found a submerged 1,000-year-old dugout canoe.

Minnesota has long been canoe country
Canoes have been used in the BWCA for hundreds of years, as evidenced by their inclusion in pictographs and documentation of French Canadian voyageurs. Along with the adjacent Quetico Provincial Park in Canada, the BWCA is the most popular canoe destination in the world.

Lovers in the early 1900s courted in canoes
Also called “canoedling”—couples boarded specially made, mahogany-lined canoes outfitted with phonographs, rugs, and a chair for the woman. Because of the alluring intimacy these canoes promoted, between 1901 and 1912 the number of permits for storing canoes in Minneapolis increased from 200 to 1,200.

Canoes hold spiritual meaning
The Canadian Slavey and Chipewyan peoples believe that, upon death, the soul of the deceased boards a stone canoe for a slow paddle across a large lake; a good soul makes it safely to the other side, where game and firewood are plentiful. An evil soul sinks in the canoe, spending eternity in the water’s chilly depths.

Paddles are important, too
In the 1970s, Eugene Jensen, a Minneapolis-based marathon canoer, won the 450-mile Bemidji-to-Minneapolis endurance test four times. During one race, he noticed that a slight bend in his paddle’s shaft improved speed—this is now a common design feature.

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