The New York Times, August 1, 1880 p. 4:|
Canoeing in the United States
When John MacGregor, of the Inner Temple, published his entertaining account of the Rob Roy's thousand mile voyage on the lakes and rivers of Europe, he established canoeing as a Summer pastime. The idea was not new; it was older than authentic history; but he gave it an overhauling and brushing up that brought it out in a form that was wonderfully attractive...
The English canoe fleet was soon numbered by hundreds. The crank Rob Roy was superseded, as a sailing canoe, but the Nautilus, and many voyages under an endless variety of conditions have since been accomplished. Canoe clubs were organized, and in an incredibly brief time canoeing became in Great Britain a national pastime.
The introduction of canoeing in the United States may be said to have taken place in 1870, when the New-York Canoe Club was founded by William L. Alden.
The Indian birch and dug-out, it is true, belong to the canoe group, but they are, at best, rude craft, unfit for general cruising, and had long before gone into disuse, and come to be valued only as relics of an uncivilized condition.
Americans have enthusiastically adopted the pastime, and it is only a question of time when canoes will be as frequently seen on our bays, lakes, and rivers as sail and row boats. Besides our long coastline, we have an immense system of inland waters...
It has been stated, upon authority, that Summer cruises may be made upon the waters of Wisconsin alone for 30 years without retracing or exhausting the territory. In the northern portion of the State there are almost numberless lakes, some of large size, that are connected by rivers and smaller streams.
A canoe may, for instance, be launched upon Pewaukee Lake, a beautiful sheet of water about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, and then follow a winding course through a delightful country, through lake to rivulet, and from rivulet to lake, the lakes varying in length from three to eight miles, and in width from one to four miles. Leaving the lakes, the canoe may follow the Rock River, and passing many beautiful towns and villages strike the Mississippi at Rock Island, Ill.
Many of the Western, (notably Minnesota and Michigan,) Eastern, and Middle States offer equally attractive fields for Summer cruising. Canada is as yet almost unmapped. Twenty-five miles to the northward of Quebec the exploring canoeist is beyond the bounds of civilization, and at the entrance to a region of picturesque lakes that, with their connecting streams, form a chain almost unbroken, save by rapids and falls, to either the Hudson Bay country or the Saguenay, and the little-known territory still to the northward.
Long cruises have been made by Americans. The Kleine Fritz (A. H. Siegfried) has followed the course of the Mississippi from the extreme head-waters to Rock Island, Ill.; the Maria Theresa (N. H. Bishop) has cruised by inland waters from Lansingburg, N. Y., to the mouth of the Suwannee River; the Bubble, (Charles E. Chase,) in 1878, cruised from New-York to Quebec by connecting water-ways, thence by portage through the Valley of the Chaudière, to the head-waters of and down the Connecticut River, to and through Long Island Sound, to New-York.
Mr. C. H. Farnham has recently completed a Canadian voyage embracing the Saguenay, its tributaries, and other water-courses. In 1879 Mr. Frank Zihler made a cruise of about 1,200 miles from Racine, Wis., to New-Orleans. Many less extended cruises have been made, and clubs have been organized in the larger cities.
The New York Times, August 1, 1892 p. 2:|
John MacGregor and His Canoe.From the Pall Mall Gazette.
Many who a quarter of a century ago read the fascinating story of the voyages of the Rob Roy canoe will hear with regret to-day of the death of Mr. John MacGregor. He was a son of the late Sir Duncan MacGregor, K. C. B., and was for a large portion of his life of a restless and roving disposition.
He was educated at Dublin and at Cambridge, of which he was a wrangler, and nearly fifty years ago was writing and sketching for Punch.
During the French Revolution of 1848, Mr. MacGregor visited Paris, and two years later made a tour through Europe and the Levant, and Egypt and Palestine. On his return in 1851, he was called to the bar, but soon left for Russia, visiting likewise every other country in Europe, as well as Algeria and Tunis, and subsequently the United States and Canada. He published an interesting account of his wanderings.
MacGregor's first canoe voyage was undertaken in 1865, and in the ensuing year his memorable logbook appeared, under the title of A Thousand Miles in the 'Rob Roy' Canoe on the Rivers and Lakes of Europe. This work passed through thirteen editions in less than twenty years. It was succeeded by various other accounts of canoe voyages, all of which enjoyed considerable popularity.
Mr. MacGregor, who was twice elected a member of the London School Board for the division of Greenwich, was an exceedingly genial and lovable man.
The Los Angeles Times, August 6, 1893 p. 17:|
Evolution of the Canoe from a Rough-hewn Log of Pine
It is not necessary to dwell at length upon the rapid progress of canoeing in the United States and Canada...
to a Model of Nautical Architecture With Loaded Center Board.
The modern canoe is one of the most useful contrivances afloat. It is a little world in itself; it is a conveyance, a home, a bed, a storehouse, or a Saratoga trunk, as necessities require. It is fitted with two water-tight compartments, so that the tiny craft if upset will not sink, and there are also compartments for storing away changes of clothing, bedding, provisions, cooking utensils and tent. It has a cockpit six or seven feet long in which the canoeist sits while sailing and sleeps while camping out over night.
This useful craft is built of basswood, cedar, butternut or pine, and must be well put together. It weighs from fifty to eighty pounds, and hence is easily handled. It will cost from $100 to $150, and fully rigged with sails and spars the sum may reach $250. But it is a cheap investment, for a canoe will last for years with ordinary care...
It was an extended canoe voyage that brought the sport into popular notice and favor. John MacGregor, who is the father of modern canoeing, cruised on the rivers and lakes of Europe, and paddled down the Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus, in his canoe Rob Roy. His entertaining book of adventure, entitled A Thousand Miles in the 'Rob Roy' Canoe on the Rivers and Lakes of Europe, was published in 1866, and it had an enormous sale.
The next year the Royal Canoe Club of England, with the Prince of Wales as commodore, was organized, and canoeing was added to the list of outdoor sports for gentlemen.
About the same time canoeing was taken up for pleasure in America, although it had been more or less in vogue for years in the United States and Canada. N. H. Bishop was the pioneer. He sailed a paper canoe through Lake Champlain, down the Hudson River, and along the coast of Florida. Messrs. Markham and Chambers also made extended voyages--the latter to the head waters of the Mississippi, which he discovered in Elk Lake.
Perhaps the most daring voyage was that undertake together by Messrs. Burchard and Stoddard. They cruised through Long Island Sound and along the New England coast to Nova Scotia...
When canoeing was introduced as a gentleman's sport, racing was not seriously considered. For the first twelve years, that is, from 1868 to 1880, there was no undue eagerness for increased speed. The early canoeists were satisfied to have a boat alike good for sails and paddles.
At first, when the idea of sailing canoes attracted attention, a very small sail was used. It did not look much larger than a dishcloth. As the racing craze increased, and a larger sail was required to make the canoe travel faster, it was found necessary to use considerable ballast. Even with 100 pounds of shot and a heavy centerboard, the early canoeist was seldom able to spread over eighty or ninety feet of sail. Fifteen years ago the the canoe sailor who carried over seventy-five feet of sail was regarded as a bold fellow; today 150 feet is the common thing.
Thus, while few improvements have been made in paddling canoes, the greatest progress known has been made in sailing canoes. With double increase in sail area has come, of course, a complete change in the build and rigs of canoes. Within the past six or eight years almost all the fittings for masts and spars in canoes have changed. In six years, all former ideas of sail distribution have been reversed.
Prior to 1886, the canoeist sat on the bottom of the boat, which held heavy ballast. At the American Canoe Association "meet" of that year, Mr. Barney appeared with his historic canoe, Pecowsic. He not only discarded all ballast, but he sat on the deck, and depended entirely upon leaning out to windward to keep his boat on her feet. It was a startling innovation. But as Mr. Barney won almost every race in which he entered, the clever idea was quickly adopted by his fellow-canoeists.
One objection to this mode of sailing was the heavy strain on the muscles of the legs, back and abdominal region, caused by hanging out to windward without support. This trouble was avoided by Paul Butler, who introduced a racing contrivance known as the "sliding seat."
This seat is simply a board from 40 to 48 inches long and 8 inches wide. The sailor slides back and forth across his canoe on the seat, which moves in grooved runners. He can sit entirely outside the canoe, with his feet resting on the deck. the sliding seat, of course, adds to the power of the canoe to carry a larger spread of canvas than it could carry without its use.
There are still other improvements. The cross-deck tiller is a device that enables the sailor to steer even when out at full length of the seat. It is a long bar of wood that runs parallel to the sliding seat.
The centerboards have been changed within the past few years. They used to be thirty inches long; today they are from forty-two to forty-eight inches long. Their draught has always been limited to eighteen inches. Almost all racing canoes have plain, flat centerboards made of brass, weighted with lead. Several attempts have been made to introduce the folding centerboard, but such boards have not met with much favor...
This year the showing of new racing canoes has not been large. The truth is, the old racing boats are as fast as the builders know how to make them. Of all the canoes ever turned out of the shop, Theodore Oxholm's Glenwood is conceded to have been the best. She made a greater record for herself in 1891-92 than any canoe afloat.
The same boats that led the fleet last year will probably do so this season, for they are all in the hands of our racing experts. No new man in a new cause will have much show against them. Mr. Butler of Lowell, Mass., is satisfied with the Wasp, which is 3 years old, while David Goddard of the same place is holding his own in the Bee. Mr. Thomas Barrington of the New York C. C. won the club race in the Toltec, which was built for W. W. Howard in 1890. Frank C. Moore of the Knickerbocker C. C. is sailing in the Torrent, which was Mr. Smythe's boat two years ago...
The greatest interest among canoemen is always manifested at the meet of the American Canoe Association, which brings together representatives from every section of the country. This is the event of the year. The A.C.A. meet of '93 holds from August 12, and lasts two weeks. It takes place at one of the Thousand Islands. Here the canoe championships, in paddling and sailing, will be decided... Then, there will be special event and minor contests, as the war canoe race, in which twenty paddlers sit in each boat, or the hurry-skurry race, in which the contestants run 100 yards, swim 100 yards, and paddle half a mile to the finish...