CANOE

From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

CANOE, also CANO A ; the term generally used to designate the small vessels which uncivilized people, living near the water, use. In the East Indies, there is a kind of boat which goes by this name, sometimes from 40 to 50 feet long, and 5 or 6 broad. The North American Indians generally impel their canoes with paddles, which have a very large blade, and are managed perpendicularly. The canoes of Canada are of the most fragile texture, and of so little weight, that, in passing from one river to another, the boatmen carry them on their heads across their portages. They are mostly covered with bark, the pieces of which are sewed together with a kind of grass. This bark is generally not more than a quarter of an inch in thickness; yet, in these frail vessels, the Indians and Canadians do not hesitate to descend very dangerous rapids. The Esquimaux are exceedingly dexterous in the management of their canoes. These consist of a light, wooden frame, covered with sealskins, sewed together with sinews. The skins are not only extended round the bottom and sides, but likewise over the top, forming a com plete deck, and having only one opening to admit the Indian to his seat. To this hole a flat hoop, rising about four inches, is fitted, to which is fastened the surrounding skin. The paddle is about 10 feet long, light, and flat at each end. In the Esquimaux language, the canoe is called a kaiak, or mail's boat, to distinguish it from umiak, the woman's boat, which latter is a large boat for transporting the women, with their families and possessions. The Greenlanders and Esquimaux use the same kind of canoes, and it is astonishing, when we consider their insignificant construction, at what a distance from the regions they commonly inhabit, these people, especially the former, are found in them. In the islands of the South sea, the natives have a double canoe, united by a strong platform, serving, in this way, as one vessel. Such a canoe is capable of carrying a number of persons, and a considerable lading. Captain Cook gives us a long account of the different kinds of canoes used in Otaheite.