The earliest known archaeological evidence of a canoe was unearthed at the tomb of a Sumerian king near the Euphrates River, believed to be about 6000 years old.
Later, natives of many cultures, such as South and North American Indians, used canoes as a mode of transport, fishing and battle. Eskimos used a similar kayak. The original canoes and kayaks were propelled through the water by single-bladed paddles, usually made out of wood.
In the 19th century, British barrister John MacGregor studied the ancient kayaks, and then designed a similar boat which he took to the rivers and lakes of Europe's wilderness. He went on to found the Royal Canoe Club, with the first canoe regatta held in 1866.