Canoe Clubs


written by Phoebe Jade (she/her)

Phoebe grew up paddling canoes on local lakes and waterways with her family throughout the Ottawa Valley (Ontario, Canada) and rural Quebec. She currently lives and works in Ottawa on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg. A few years ago, her partner Evan introduced her to the exciting world of whitewater canoeing and river tripping - ever since then, she's been growing her love and knowledge of this space and finding her flow in the water and on the portage trails. She shares her journey and writes on all things canoe-related here on

For as long as I can remember I have been paddling in a canoe. Many summers of my childhood were spent in the bow (font) of my family's canoe up at our wilderness cabin in Quebec, Canada. Over the past few years, my partner Evan introduced me to whitewater canoeing and while he remains my favourite person to paddle with, I am always looking to connect with the community and meet new “canoe-loving” folks. So, I’ve spent the past few weeks scouring the internet for local canoe clubs around me and what they could potentially offer. 


If you’re in the same boat (so to speak) I have compiled everything I learnt, and everything you need to know, to join a canoe club down below. 



Reasons why you should join a canoe club: 

Getting into a canoe for the first time or paddling down a flowing river can be a life-changing experience for many people. After that exhilarating first time out on the water, you may be wondering how to move forward with your new-found love of canoeing. Finding resources can be tricky, and venturing out alone to paddle new places can be both intimidating and downright dangerous. Joining a canoe club is a great way to connect with your local community and gain access to skills, expertise, events, and equipment.


The reasons why I think you should join a canoe club:


Find your Community 👋

If you are new to canoeing and looking to meet other paddlers who share the same interests as you do, joining a canoe club is a great place to start. Many clubs also offer women 's-only and youth events. You can reference my canoe club resource list below to find a club that is the perfect fit for you. 


Learn New Skills 🔧

Learning from more experienced paddlers in a canoe club is one of the best ways to improve your flatwater or whitewater canoe skills. Many canoe clubs also host workshops and training events where members can sign up to perfect their paddle strokes and maneuvers. 

Beginner workshops are a great place to meet other novice paddlers at the same skill level as you. Alternatively, they provide an ideal environment to try something new and exciting. For example, if you're a more experienced solo canoeist, you could sign up for a tandem workshop to expand your skill set in a new watercraft. This year, I hope to get more comfortable in a solo canoe and will be taking courses to help with that. 


Side note: sometimes hosts paddling workshops with instruction from world-class experts. Click here to see if there is one happening near you! 


Explore New Places 🌄

Looking to explore somewhere new? Canoe clubs are an excellent means to explore both local environments and travel to remote waterways. You can read about an amazing trip on the Dumoine River here. Travelling to far-off rivers may become a cost-prohibitive solo, however, members can plan for trips together and help balance equipment and transportation costs. Plus, you may learn of someone's favourite “secret” lake to paddle that isn't easily found through online searches.


So whether you are a solo canoeist, a multi-day tripper, or have an appetite for the thrills of white water - many canoe clubs will suit both your skill level and interests. 


How to Join: The Application Process 

If you’re still reading at this point there is a good chance you are interested in joining a canoe club this season. Depending on the region you are in and the type of canoe club you are looking to join (competitive vs recreational or community-based), the application process can vary. Most sign-up sheets and online forms can be found on the club websites below in the canoe club resource list.


However, make sure to consider these factors before applying:


Timelines ⏰

Most clubs will have applications for the spring/summer paddling season open throughout the winter months. It’s important to keep in mind that many clubs are volunteer-run timelines and the speed at which someone will be able to join will depend on their capacity. This is why it’s always best to get your application in as soon as possible once you have decided on a club. If you think it’s too late, it might not be - so still reach out to see if there are spots available! 


Skill Level 🏆

You don’t have to be an all-star to join a canoe club. But be sure to check out websites and Facebook pages to see if clubs offer beginner-friendly outings or events - more likely than not, they will! That being said, some clubs require members to have training in whitewater safety, first aid, and/or a certain level of canoe mastery to participate in events or club outings. During the application process, you may have to fill out a form or respond to some questions that will help club organizers assess your skill level. But don't fret - as mentioned previously, joining a club is a great way to grow your skill level. So no matter what level you start with, you will most certainly be introduced to many opportunities to challenge yourself and grow your competencies in a safe environment.


Cost 💸

Most clubs are volunteer-run so they are reasonably affordable to access in comparison to something such as a competitive hockey league but, that being said, many still require a sign-up and membership cost to cover administrative expenses and for insurance purposes. Some clubs offer bursaries or discounts for those who can’t afford it so don't be afraid to ask if that is something that you may need.  Finally, if you are brand new to the canoe world and would like to try canoeing for free before joining a club you can check out the Learn to Paddle program (Ottawa region).


In summary 

I hope this article has been helpful and has explained why you should join a canoe club to help find your community, explore new places, and learn new skills as well as highlighted factors to consider such as timing, skill level and cost when considering the how in joining a canoe club. Most of all, I hope that whoever is still reading this (yes you!) knows that your community is out there waiting for you and it’s never too late to try something new. 


Thanks for reading - and I hope to see you on the water soon! 🙌

  • Phoebe 



Canoe Club Resource List 📜

I’ve created a list of canoe clubs in the area to help make your search easier. This list is not exhaustive so if I missed your canoe club please feel free to leave a comment down below!


Ottawa/Gatineau Region:

Ottawa River Canoe Club

The Ottawa River Canoe Club is a non-profit paddling organization located in the west-end of Ottawa. They offer a variety of recreational and competitive paddling programs for everyone, including SUP, recreational canoe/kayak and more. The ORCC has accessible programs for everyone including PaddleALL for persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and free Paddling sessions on Thursdays through their I CAN Padlle program for newly arrived Canadian immigrants and refugees.


Club de canot-camping Pierre Radisson

Based in the Gatineau region and specializing in whitewater canoeing, the Club de canot-camping Pierre Radisson offers the opportunity to participate in river outings almost every weekend, discover the local region, and meet fellow whitewater canoe enthusiasts. This club primarily runs their operations in French, so it’s important to note this if you are planning on joining this upcoming season. 


Ottawa River Runners (ORR)

The Ottawa River Runners is a whitewater kayaking and canoe club, that manages and operates "the Pumphouse" ( a slalom/rec course and whitewater facility) in the heart of downtown Ottawa. To keep up your skills, or practise for the upcoming season the ORR also hosts recreational pool sessions during winter in partnership with Carleton University. Neat! 


Recreation Association Canoe Camping Club (RACCC)

If you’re looking for a club with many diverse options, the Recreation Association Canoe Camping Club (or RACC) based in Ottawa may be a great option! With members of all ages and skill levels, and over 250 events each year offered through their flatwater, whitewater, and family programs, as well as numerous training opportunities. The RACC is sure to have something for everyone. 


Petrie Island Canoe Club 

For Ottawa East, Petrie Island Canoe Club is a community and volunteer-run not-for-profit paddling club in Orleans and a member of Canoe Kayak Canada. They offer a variety of youth paddling programs for all levels, ages and abilities. Their goal is to foster a sense of community while providing a fun, family-oriented and friendly environment that supports and promotes the development of participants in addition to training highly competitive level paddlers.


The Rideau Canoe Club

For those less about whitewater and more interested in sprint racing, the Rideau Canoe Club is a non-profit organization that competes in local, divisional, provincial, national and international regattas (races). They also offer many other programs and services that center around paddling whether it's for fun, fitness or to compete. This club welcomes those from all levels and abilities to join. 




While not technically a canoe club, Paddle Co-op is a not-for-profit outdoor educational paddling entre on the banks of the Madawaska River. They specialize in whitewater canoe, kayak and rafting instruction and offer guided river trips as well as youth and women-specific programs and events. You can purchase a yearly membership to gain access to their campgrounds,  attend special events such as their season opener “Palmer Fest”, take paddling courses, and have the opportunity to connect with the paddling community. I took a course through Paddle-co-op last spring and I would highly recommend it! 



Les Portageurs

Founded in 1963, this Montreal club has been around for quite some time. However, one thing has not changed, and that is their shared values of the love of nature and rivers, mutual aid, sharing and great food. They welcome everyone from adults to families to come to join their club. 


Le Club Rabaska

The mission of Rabaska, the Quebec City canoe club, is to promote the safe practice of whitewater canoeing and kayaking on Quebec's rivers and elsewhere. Each year, the club organizes calm water and white water canoeing courses, especially for new members, as well as improvement clinics.

Let's talk about your next adventure: