Kayak History

Historical Archives for Arctic & Greenland Kayaks

1765 book, The History of Greenland Vol 1 of 2, An Account of the Mission Carried on by the United Brethren, by David Cranz. p139-144 Kayaks and Hunting Seals. Tales from the Moravian Missions in Greenland from the 18th century.

1891 book, Eskimo Life by Fridtjof Nansen. Chapter III "The kaiak and its appurtenances", ChIV "The Eskimo at sea".
Anyone who sails a ship to the North Pole and drives it on purpose into the pack ice to freeze solid for 5 years is either a genius or a madman. In the case of Nansen, a genius. Norwegian scientist & inventor, Arctic explorer & 19th century kayaker, statesman & politican, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the list goes on. A brilliant piece of writing from one of the worlds most extraordinary characters.

1922 film, Nanook of the North

1930 film, Northern Lights Part I, British Arctic Air Route Expedition to Greenland. Gino Watkins et al. This is so old it's a silent movie.

1930 film, Northern Lights Part 2, British Arctic Air Route Expedition to Greenland.

Northern Lights summary by Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

1932 book, Northern Lights - The Official Account of the British Arctic Air Route Expedition 1930-1931 by Spencer Chapman

1970 book, The History of Greenland I: earliest times to 1700 by Finn Gad.

1986 book, Skinboats of Greenland by H.C. Petersen. Encyclopedic descriptions of everything and anything to do with both the Greenland kayak and the umiak. Lots of useful information on hunting techniques and technology. 

1986 book, Qayaq: Kayaks of Alaska and Siberia by David W. Zimmerly. Comprehensive overview of kayaks from Alaska and Siberia. The author claims that kayaks were in use in Alaska and Siberia before their emergence in Greenland. This is an interesting view as popular culture says the kayak was invented by the Inuit in Greenland. Given the difficulties of finding archeological evidence for wooden skin on frame kayaks this question may never be answered with 100% certainty.

2004 book, Eastern Arctic Kayaks by John D. Heath and E.Arima. Academic, detailed and highly readable account of the history, design and techniques of Greenland kayaking. Classic textbook.

2005 book, A Prehistory of the North: Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes, by John F. Hoffecker. Ever wondered what on earth would possess anyone to live in the Arctic in the first place? This excellent book relates how stone-age man colonised the Far North. No mention of kayaks unfortunately.

2000 onwards, Qajaq USA, Greenland qajaq forums. Also publish an interesting journal called QAJAQ.


Modern Links

Helen Wilson DVD "Simplifying the Roll". Impeccable rolling demonstrations. 
Maligiaq & Dubside "Greenland Rolling" DVDs - the entire collection of rolls from the Greenland Championships. 
"This is the Roll" features Turner Wilson & Cheri Perry. Plus "This is the Roll 2" released Sep 2015.
The inspirational Stika in sunny Oz.
For seat of your pants Greenland rolling Warren Williamson in Deception Pass

An article by Warren on taking Greenland skills from the millpond to the tidal race.