Canoe Sledding: The True Canadian Winter Pastime?

With the onset of actual snow this morning in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, I think its time that we start focusing our attention on the most Canadian of winter sports. No its not hockey, and its not curling either. For those of you new to the sport I present: Canoe Sledding! A great way to put your canoe to use over the winter so that it can earn its keep. sledding-in-the-canoe-muskoka

canoe sledding 2

Although there are no examples of hybrid canoes that are meant to be used on water AND snow, Walter Dean, a canoe and boat builder from Toronto Ontario, was known to be imaginative where his customers were concerned. One of his inventions was the “Aerodean” a propeller-driven toboggan.  Built around 1915, this device would have been operated with a gas engine.  Although it was a unique site to see in Toronto, craftsmen had been building motorized sleds since about 1896. However, the “Aerodean” predated the first commercial snowmobiles by about 12 years.*

The Aerodean in all of its glory!

I will be honest, I have never canoe sledded, but I have heard stories (and seen many videos) of canoes gliding through pristine fields of white, and I have to say, if you’ve never tried it, this might be the year to retire your old crazy carpet or GT racer.

gtandcrazy carpet

After examining many videos of successful and less successful canoe sledding runs, I have compiled a list of the factors that must be in place for a successful canoe sledding excursion: 1. A fibreglass, plastic, aluminum or resin composite canoe. 2. As many people as you can cram into one canoe. 3. A really steep hill. 4. The kind of snow that is not too powdery and not to wet. 5. Minimal amounts of fear or shame.

The below videos show varying degrees of successful canoe sledding.  I particularly like the little guy who "kayaks" down the hill!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w_KXbWEDh4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3CG66oerZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11pkxz-9_YM

Now that you have mastered the 5 main tenants of canoe sledding, go out and give it a try! We would love to see your photos and videos once the snow really starts to fly. As always keep safe and have fun!

*Thanks to Diane Beasley for providing information about Walter Dean's "Aerodean". Her Masters thesis entitled: Walter Dean and Sunnyside: A Study of Waterfront Recreation in Toronto 1880-1930 can be found online by clicking here.