Throwback look at paddling and health

The following information was taken from an original issue of “Forest & Stream,” a weekly sporting journal that was published from the 1870s through the turn of the century. The publication was devoted to “Field and Aquatic Sports, Practical Natural History, Fish Culture, the Protection of Game, Preservation of Forests, and the Inculcation in Men and Women of a healthy interest in Outdoor Recreation and Study.”


Forest And Stream

103 Fulton Street, New York,

and 125 South Third Street, Philadelphia

Terms, Five Dollars a Year, Strictly in Advance. A discount of twenty per cent for five copies and upwards. Any person sending us two subscriptions and Ten Dollars will receive a copy of Hallock’s “Fishing Tourist,” postage free.

The New York Canoe Club held its third annual meeting on February 19th, 1881. The rooms were filled with members, many of them being the leading literary and scientific men of this city, who have employed their leisure hours in voyages of discovery on the upper waters of Lake Champlain and the charming River Sorrel, which empties into this beautiful lake. The Treasurer read the financial report of the past year, which showed that the prosperous condition of the Club was very encouraging; the Secretary’s report was also read, and the officers of the past year received a vote of thanks. The Club has now some twenty-five canoes, most of them built from a design after the model of W. Baden Powell and a few Rob Roy’s.


There can be no healthier exercise than paddling, and to the boat-sailor, no greater enjoyment than managing these delicate crafts under canvas; and when to combine with these sports, shooting and fishing, necessitates only stowing your gun and fishing gear, we must say once more that to the canoe there is a variety of sports attached that rarely can be found so condensed.


A Poughkeepsie ice-boat is said to have crossed the river at that point, distance one mile, in the incredible time of thirty-one seconds.

The Fly-Away Base Ball Club held its annual meeting at their head-quarters, 512 East Fifteenth Street.

The St. Louis Cricket Club held their annual meeting on March 4th, when the officers for the ensuing year were elected.


Forest and Stream desires to call the attention of its readers to a sport, which is in itself a variety of sports, and although but little known in this country, is of some years standing in England and and has numerous followers there.

“Canoeing” evidently means using a canoe of some kind and in some way, but the word canoe is so indefinite, applying equally well to numerous and totally

different vessels both in construction and size, that at the start we must state that it is not our intention to recommend canoes in general but a particular type of boats so called.

The Malaysian outrigged canoes, sometimes seventy feet in length, and which it is said have accomplished the surprising speed of twenty miles an hour under sail, although unquestionably very good in their own waters, would be hardly the boats to use in a trip through the Adirondack Lakes; nor would the “dug-out” of the Potomac and Chesapeake be selected for a tour through a country where numerous portages were necessary; and again we should not advise the use of the “birch-bark” for a voyage across the English Channel.


As a nation, the Americans have not yet fully understood the value of outdoor sports to those who, born in fortunate circumstances, are not compelled to work for a living. While our public school system challenges admiration, it is yet deficient in facilities for physical education.

Very rarely is a case found where the lover of active sports is addicted to vicious habits – this one takes the place of the other. The mind naturally craves for excitement and for action; if a healthy, pure outlet be provided for the exuberance of animal spirits, all goes well; if not, they will seek those channels which are always at hand – the saloon, the dice box and the bagnio.


As can be expected, the Journal also featured a wide range of advertising, including Orvis Flyrods and tackle:

Fishing Rods, Manufactured By Charles F. Orvis. Manchester, Vermont.

Split Bamboo Fly Rods and Reels of the FINEST WORKMANSHIP. Tackle suitable for Maine, Adirondack, Canadian and other fishing.

The publication also solicited advertisers with banner headlines claiming, “ADVERTISERS TAKE NOTICE: As spring advances, dealers in anglers’ outfits note with satisfaction that a new impetus has been given to their business, and manufacturers of rods, flies, trolling tackle, tents, camp kits, rubber goods, corduroys, fishing boots, etc. will find their orders begin to increase.

“Sportsmen are already casting about for new fishing localities and sporting resorts. We know our mail subscribers to be of wealth, intelligence, good social position and leisure, who can afford to spend liberally for their personal gratification, and are satisfied with no goods but the best.

“They are not a miscellaneous class, like those who support the daily newspaper or the literary journals, but each is, and must be, from the nature of his affiliations, a purchaser of those articles that he employs for his diversion.

“Forest and Stream now reaches every State in the Union, and has subscribers in Canada, the West Indies, South America, France, England and Germany. But it is not to dealers in outfits alone – outfits for those who fish for profit as well as pleasure – that our paper is serviceable. Our sportsmen require maps, guide books and time tables of the railway and steamboat routes that lead up to the wilderness resorts and fashionable watering places; and the hotels themselves should be indicated.”