We believe that the more information you have about ribbed canoe, the more you understand their beauty and you will be able to feel a real sense of freedom, adventure and relaxation when paddling on the board. All that is indelibly written in an incredibly long history of canoe. Let us therefore please share with you pieces of history.
Available information about the early days of canoe is fairly plain, unspecific sometimes it is even contradictory. Perhaps it should be like this, there´s something about a canoe to be shrouded in a little mystery, letting you a space to your imagination. Imagination that wake up your enthusiasm and desire in the moment to sit down and touch water by the canoe paddle.
When exactly a ship was born, which is called canoe presently, it is not and probably will never be known. There are several theories about the first canoes which are placed on different continents. One of them says that the ”discovery“ of canoe belongs to the North American Indians who used it when migrating from Asia to America. According to another theory dugout canoe made of hardwood had been used earlier by people in Africa to sailing coastal waters and lakes. Another version says that dugout canoe had been used in Southeast Asia for fishing and there´s another significant theory about using canoes by South American Amazonian tribes. We have come to terms with the fact that the original canoes came into existence 25 000 to 30 000 years ago and probably they were originated and evolved in different continents at about the same time, but completely independently of each other.
The canoe was used for various purposes in different parts of the world. Material for making canoe matched local resources, so the next dugout canoe we read about ships of reed, bamboo and straw.
Interestingly there are just small differencies (related to the local waters nature and purpose of use)the shape of the canoe minimally changed during millennium. Let me here quote a representative of one major American company producing canoe. When asked whether they make any significant experimenting with shapes of travel canoe, he replied „First people were evolving canoe shapes perhaps 30 000 years. Do you think we can still come to something even better?“
Apparently the oldest canoe dugout which were created using stone hammers, simple chisels, flints from one tree trunk. It was a very long way of „production“ process. The improvement came when the ancestors of North American Indians began to use wet mud and fire for canoe production which helped to create a canoe hull as a relatively thin shell. Another method of constructing canoe was founded to build a canoe hull from the branches and animal skins covering. The most famous Indian vessels are covered with seal skin which is characterized by lightness, strength and excellent watertightness.
Ribbed canoe has had great features from birch bark. The bark had been peeled from the tree, soaked and then sewed by the roots. However, this had been about 5000 years ago. Archaeologists discovered copper awls, which could have been used for sewing birch bark from around 3000 BC, but it is possible that in previous times, an antler or bone awl had been used for this purpose.
Construction of the birch bark canoe had persisted for millennium. Only materials for completion varied according to the natural resources in the area. As the sealant is had been used for example a mixture of spruce resin, lard and wooden ashes.
Ribbed canoe from birch bark had played an important role in early development of North America. Europeans very soon after the arrival acquired using ribbed canoe to move in a wooden landscape, rich in watercourses and lakes. Canoe had become the most suitable means of transport here and it played an irreplaceable role in a fur trade in the 17th and 18th century. From here, this type of canoe had been expanding to Europe.
Around the year 1880 it was formed the first rib canoe covered by canvas and built on the boot tree. This type of canoe became popular in Bohemia at the beginning of 1910. From this period survived a couple of boats that are a real collector's masterpiece. Elegance of the ribbed canoe is fascinating and its owners are the very proud of their vessels.
The second half of the 20th century brought the mark of modern materials used in the production of canoe, such as fiberglass, plastic, aluminum and various composite nebo built-up materials. Despite the obvious advantages of these materials, especially for sports-racing purposes, a classic ribbed canoe still remains a real legend.
Just as it is not known an early history of canoe, so we do not know its future. How will they look like, what materials will be produced from? Only time can answer this question. One thing is however certain. Classic ribbed canoe is and will be for many of us one of the ways of a return to nature, an implement to slow down for a moment and calm our mind whether by a nice link with the past.
The movement of your wood-ribbed canoe is a simply harmony with the surrounding nature. To this vessel belongs silence as well as sound of water caressing the canoe, a bird singing and the whispering of the wind. When you become a part of the canoe, you become a part of its entire long history. I know you feel the legacy to Indians, warriors of Amazonian tribes, African shamans, fur traders, and this legacy will enable you to join nature, history and to experience some adventure.
If you have read this far, then we will be happy to advise you how to intensify the experience of canoe rides: Enjoy a summer night ride under a clear sky in a ribbed canoe, when the lake or river merges into the sky full of stars. I personally haven´t found any word that would describe this experience. And even so or just therefore, I repeat these night rides several times each year.