The Difference Between Canoes & Pirogues


Pirogues and canoes are small boats used to travel in shallow water such as ponds, lakes and sometimes even marshes. People enjoy fishing out of these boats and just relaxing inside them on the water. These boats are even used for transporting people from one side of a pond, lake or marsh when there is no other way to across by land. However, pirogues and canoes are slightly different.

What are Pirogues

  • Pirogues are small flat bottom boats made to be lightweight so they are easy to carry and place into the water. Traditionally pirogues were made out of hollowed cypress logs. Now they are made from fiberglass and different types of woods. Typically pirogues are used in West Africa by fisherman to get around shallow waterways and fish in. Pirogues are powered by rowing, sails and sometimes small boat motors.

What Makes Pirogues Different From Canoes

  • Pirogues have flat bottoms instead of concave bottoms like canoes. Since pirogues are flat boats they are able to float or slide over obstacles like logs, rocks and shallow sandy waterways without tipping over easily. However, they move more slowy than canoes.

What Are Canoes

  • Canoes are small, narrow, hollowed-out boats with cone shapes bottoms originally made by indigenous people. In North America birch, cedar and elm trees are used for material to make canoes because they are lightweight and make canoes easier to carry to the water. Canoes are favored to travel lakes, ponds and marshes or to simply relax and fish in. People get their canoes moving by paddling and motors.

Why Canoes Are Different from Pirogues

  • Canoes have V-shape bottoms that help them travel faster in water. However, the design makes it difficult for the canoe to get over obstacles like logs and shallow, sandy waterways without tipping over.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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