Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure

By Jamie Benedickson

© 1997

In the spring of 1940, subscribers to Queen's Quarterly read that the 'ingredients of a holiday in Canada are idleness, water, and a canoe.' This statement bears witness to the enduring importance of the canoe generations after the decline of the North American fur trade. Jamie Benidickson explains that the canoe's merit lies not strictly in its function as a transportation vehicle, but in its promise of unrestricted mobility, leisure, and independence. Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a study of the place of the canoe in Canadian life, with comparative references to the United States and Britain. A blend of history, economic analysis, technical information, and social commentary, it examines the rise of the canoe's popularity and its influence on leisure activity, economics and tourism, and literature and advertising in this country.

Drawing on books, newspaper articles, original records, unusual ephemera, and interviews with paddlers, the author describes the evolution and cultural significance of two centuries of recreational paddling. He explores why canoeists have constantly sought new summer waterways, how they have practised their craft, and how much influence paddling for pleasure has had on them and on the societies in which they live. The many facets of recreational paddling are illustrated and described in a series of reflections on subjects ranging from the paddler's quest for physical and emotional renewal to what the future holds for voyageurs and their sport. Benidickson also discusses the evolution of canoe design and manufacturing, the formation of canoe clubs and organizations, the economics of recreational travel, and the paddler's role in environmental protection.

Not only will this book appeal to those interested in history, sociology, aesthetics, geography, and sports and leisure studies, but its broad scope and accessible style will recommend it to the many outdoor enthusiasts who plan yearly canoeing trips.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 300 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
Product Formats

SaveUP TO 15182

Book Formats

SKU# SP001797

  • PUBLISHED MAY 1997

    From: $23.37

    Regular Price: $35.95

    ISBN 9780802079107
  • PUBLISHED OCT 1999

    From: $63.05

    Regular Price: $97.00

Quick Overview

This book describes the cultural significance of two centuries of recreational paddling in Canada, illustrating through contemporary interviews and published sources what the experience of canoeing has meant to the sport's participants.

Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure

By Jamie Benedickson

© 1997

In the spring of 1940, subscribers to Queen's Quarterly read that the 'ingredients of a holiday in Canada are idleness, water, and a canoe.' This statement bears witness to the enduring importance of the canoe generations after the decline of the North American fur trade. Jamie Benidickson explains that the canoe's merit lies not strictly in its function as a transportation vehicle, but in its promise of unrestricted mobility, leisure, and independence. Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a study of the place of the canoe in Canadian life, with comparative references to the United States and Britain. A blend of history, economic analysis, technical information, and social commentary, it examines the rise of the canoe's popularity and its influence on leisure activity, economics and tourism, and literature and advertising in this country.

Drawing on books, newspaper articles, original records, unusual ephemera, and interviews with paddlers, the author describes the evolution and cultural significance of two centuries of recreational paddling. He explores why canoeists have constantly sought new summer waterways, how they have practised their craft, and how much influence paddling for pleasure has had on them and on the societies in which they live. The many facets of recreational paddling are illustrated and described in a series of reflections on subjects ranging from the paddler's quest for physical and emotional renewal to what the future holds for voyageurs and their sport. Benidickson also discusses the evolution of canoe design and manufacturing, the formation of canoe clubs and organizations, the economics of recreational travel, and the paddler's role in environmental protection.

Not only will this book appeal to those interested in history, sociology, aesthetics, geography, and sports and leisure studies, but its broad scope and accessible style will recommend it to the many outdoor enthusiasts who plan yearly canoeing trips.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 300 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'Read this erudite book and you will never again be bested in of those endless canoe-trip conversations about canoes ... In the final analysis, canoeing is a very personal, emotive matter. Most of the current crop of trippers are harried, urbanized survivors. The canoe provides unique access to another, more real world. Benidickson's gentle, generous book manages well to capture this elusive process.'


    Dunnery Best
    The Globe and Mail

    'Benidickson unloads some of the weight of so much information and data with dry, straight-faced humor, and organizes an immense archive into enjoyable prose.'


    Jon Chaplin
    The Toronto Star

    'Even a determined non-canoer can enjoy this book. It's interesting, and surprising, and beautifully written, so even if your idea of roughing it is having to get up to change the TV channel all by yourself without a remote control, you can still enjoy this book thoroughly ... This is a love story, and, thankfully, Benidickson is articulate in telling his passion for the canoe. His love for this wonderfully versatile craft shines on every page, and is guaranteed to enthrall any reader.'


    Linda Turk
    The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal

    'Whether you are a seasoned veteran, avid canoeist or beginner, Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a rich resource which offers more than one explanation as to why, when idleness is at a premium, so many of us need to hear the song of the paddle.'


    Harry Rintoul
    Winnipeg Free Press

    'All in all a splendid piece of work that should fascinate many a paddler, including the armchair variety.'


    Toni Harting
    Nastawgan, publication of the Wilderness Canoe Association

    'You can doze with this book on the dock, pick it up after an evening paddle, fall asleep with it at night.'


    Marian Botsford Fraser
    The Financial Post
  • Author Information

    Jamie Benedickson is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and co-author of The Temagami Experience.