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HomeNL-2013-09 Outdoor Sports


Outdoor Sports and Games
1911
by Claude Miller
Introduction by John Rich
 
"Outdoor Sports and Games" is a book published in 1911 which offers advice on a variety of outdoor activities.  This 100-year-old book is available online for free, compliments of Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize public domain cultural works. The outdoor activities covered in this book include, among other things, topics such as fishing, skiing, swimming, tennis, golf, firearms, camping, and of course, our favorite outdoor activity, canoeing.

Here I will provide an excerpt of Chapter XIV, titled "Swimming and Canoeing".  I'll exclude the swimming part, except for letting Mr. Miller explain why he included them together, and then we'll go straight to the canoeing part.
 
Here is Claude Miller's introduction to canoeing from 1911:


 
Chapter XIV, Swimming and Canoeing

I have placed canoeing and swimming in the same chapter because the first word in canoeing is never go until you can swim.
 
There is practically no difference between the shape of the modern canoe and the shape of the Indian birch bark canoes which were developed by the savages in America hundreds of years ago. All the ingenuity of white men has failed to improve on this model. A canoe is one of the most graceful of water craft and, while it is regarded more in the light of a plaything by people in cities, it is just as much a necessity to the guides and trappers of the great Northern country as a pony is to the cowboy and the plainsman. The canoe is the horse and wagon of the Maine woodsman and in it he carries his provisions and his family.
 
A typical Indian model canoe
 

While a canoe is generally propelled by paddles, a pole is sometimes necessary to force it upstream, especially in swift water. In many places the sportsman is forced to carry his canoe around waterfalls and shallows for several miles. For this reason a canoe must be as light as possible without too great a sacrifice of strength. The old styles of canoes made of birch bark, hollow logs, the skins of animals and so on have practically given way to the canvas-covered cedar or basswood canoes of the Canadian type.

 
A sailing canoe in action
 
It will scarcely pay the boy to attempt to make his own canoe, as the cost of a well-made eighteen-foot canoe of the type used by professional hunters and trappers is but thirty dollars. With care a canoe should last its owner ten years. It will be necessary to protect it from the weather when not in use and frequently give it a coat of paint or spar varnish.
 
Sailing canoes are built after a different model from paddling canoes. They usually are decked over and simply have a cockpit. They are also stronger and much heavier. Their use is limited to more open water than most of the rivers and lakes of Maine and Canada. Cruising canoes are made safer if watertight air chambers are built in the ends.
 
Even if a canoe turns over it does not sink. Some experts can right a capsized canoe and clamber in over the side even while swimming in deep water. The seaworthiness of a canoe depends largely upon its lines. Some canoes are very cranky and others can stand a lot of careless usage without capsizing. One thing is true of all, that accidents occur far more often in getting in and out of a canoe than in the act of sailing it. It is always unsafe to stand in a canoe or to lean far out of it to pick lilies or to reach for floating objects.
 

Canoes may be propelled by either single or double paddles, but the former is the sportman's type. It is possible to keep a canoe on a straight course entirely by paddling on one side and merely shifting to rest, but the beginner may have some difficulty in acquiring the knack of doing this, which consists of turning the paddles at the end of the stroke to make up the amount that the forward stroke deflects the canoe from a straight course.

 
In canoeing against the current in
swift steams a pole is used in
place of the paddle
 
A type of sailing canoe
 
An open canoe for paddling does not require a rudder. A sailing canoe, however, will require a rudder, a keel, and a centreboard as well. Canoe sailing is an exciting and dangerous sport. In order to keep the canoe from capsizing, a sliding seat or outrigger is used, upon which the sailor shifts his position to keep the boat on an even keel. The centreboard is so arranged that it can be raised or lowered by means of a line.
 
~~~~~  End Chapter XIV ~~~~~
 
To read the complete book, go here.