On Line Certificates

CertificateThere has been a change in accessing Certificates for Instructor members, Instructor Trainers, Lifetime Members, and Master Instructors.  The certificate is designed in a more generic format. In order to access this new form, you will need to log in to your account here.    Once logged in, the new certificate can be located in the left column and can be downloaded from there.

Please note this is a fillable form where instructors will be able to enter various information using your keyboard:  the names of the participants, the course details, the name(s) of the instructors, the dates when the course was conducted, and; the date when recertification is required.

The certificate can be completed and saved.  It can be printed.  It can be printed as a PDF (which just creates a new PDF that is no longer fillable), and can be emailed to the students.  One other asset is that the certificate is no longer password protected.  The password is not needed since it can only be accessed by current Instructor members!  Please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you need assistance with this new option.

RCABC Course Summary

Courses Lead to CompetenceRCABC instructors can offer a wide range of non-specialized and specialized canoe programs.  RCABC also offer these program at various levels from beginner to expert.  Our instructors are well-prepared and skillful enabling them to be fully competent in preparing future paddlers to achieve their goals.  You can view the Program Overview at this LINK.  The following list of programs can be accessed at all levels from beginners to advanced to instructors and to instructor trainers:

  • Lake Water
  • Moving Water
  • Tripping (lake, ocean and river)
  • Ocean Canoeing
  • Poling
  • Stand Up Paddling (SUP)
  • Canoe Guide Program

Our website contains the details for all of our courses.  We hope that we can encourage you to take our courses.  We know that you will benefit by becoming more skillful and, what is most important, SAFE.  Begin or continue your canoe learning journey with us. 

River Rescue

Canoe Rescue
River canoeing is a wet sport! Sometimes very wet, like when you find yourself bobbing down a rapid beside your capsized canoe. More hazardous situations can occur too, although rarely if precautions are followed.

The RCABC River Rescue Program is designed by canoeists for canoeists to develop skills to handle difficult situations. Too often paddlers rely on the most experienced rescuer in the group and don't get an opportunity to develop their own skills. The River Rescue Program encourages all river canoesits to be skilled participants and rescue leaders.

Ocean Canoeing

Paddling the Shoreline DeCourcey Isl
Canoeing on the ocean has a rich history in BC, starting with First Nations use of dugout canoes and the more recent use of modern tripping canoes. Both sheltered and open, exposed waters can be navigated by canoe if people have appropriate skills. Amazingly, people have circumnavigated Vancouver Island and even longer, more exposed journeys in canoes. Most people stick to the common trips such as the Broken Islands, Gulf Islands, Sechelt Inlet. With over 25,000 km of coastline, BC is the place to start exploring the ocean environment!

Big Canoes

Big Canoe

Big canoes are integral to the history and culture of First Nations, the Fur Trade and now, modern canoeing. They range from 22 to 40 feet and can carry up to 18 people. Big canoes are tremendously versatile and can be used on lakes, ocean and can even run rapids on rivers. For millenia, Big Canoes were Canada's transportation, using our extensive waterways as highways. They were originally designed by First Nations out of birch bark with wooden frame or dugout logs for carrying large loads and moving larger numbers of people.
Today they are a great vehicle to get larger groups of paddlers out on the water to experience nature and undertake many journeys.. Big canoes are stable, fast, manoeuvrable and versatile in the hands of skilled paddlers. The canoe pictured here is a Tlingit dugout based in Whitehorse.

C1 (Closed Canoe)

Nice C1 Surf at Bromley Rock
Closed canoes, or C-1s are fun and dynamic playboats or river running canoes which at first glance look like a whitewater kayak. The hull is similar or exactly the same as a kayak but that's where the similarity ends. In a C1, the canoeist kneels in custom outfitting with a higher center of gravity. The second difference of course is the use of a single bladed canoe paddle and the large variety of strokes used, many based on traditional canoeing strokes.


Pry Brace Demonstration Lyle
River canoeing is not only about tripping or exploring. Whitewater canoes have evolved to become a fun and challenging way to play on whitewater:

  • Running challenging rapids
  • Surfing waves
  • Hole surfing and  spinning
  • Eskimo rolls
  • Reverse paddling and surfing
  • and more...!

Stand Up Paddling - SUP

SUP Lessons 60
The sport of Stand Up Paddling has enjoyed spectacular success.  There are more and more SUP paddlers joining this sport as it is a unique, fun and easy way to get out on the water and get a good work out.  Stand up paddling partly evolved out of canoeing and has expanded to include river, surf, race, marathon and more. There are so many similarities between SUP and canoe that it was simple for RCABC to create the SUP Lakewater program with courses and certification ranging from beginner to advanced instructor. RCABC is training new Instructors and we will be launching the first courses in spring 2017.

Canoe Poling

Whiteswan Pictographs

Before paddles were created, canoes were propelled and manoeuvred by poling, and the art of poling is still alive today. Poling is a remarkably versatile way to canoe on lakes, river and even whitewater. Standing in the canoe gives you dexterity and an excellent view, plus it adds to your comfort if you want to change positions. The long wooden pole gives the canoeist opportunity to manoeuvre the canoe with strokes off the bottom of the waterway or on the surface when needed, similar to using a paddle. Poling is an ideal way to explore shallow waterways and to move a canoe upstream on shallow rivers. BC is lucky to have a number of canoe poling instructors in various regions of the province.

Canoe Tripping

Perfect Camping Place
For many, going on wilderness trips is the ultimate way to enjoy canoeing. It could be a weekend family getaway, or a remote, multi-week river expedition. The canoe is unparalleled in its ability to handle the variety of challenges that tripping demands such as large carrying capacity, versatility in numbers of canoeists, excellent manoeuvreability, running rapids, open water crossings, ease of rescue and more.

UPDATED! Lakewater


The RCABC Lakewater Program introduces and develops fundamental canoeing skills and is the foundation for river paddling, tripping and all other types of canoeing. The program includes courses which range from learning basic and advanced skills to leader and instructor level training. If your goal is any of the following:

  • going on your first canoe camping trip
  • leading kids and youth in outdoor pursuits
  • canoe instruction or guiding
  • to build the skills to go on a wilderness whitewater expedition....

then the RCABC Lakewater Program is the place to start.


UPDATE!  We've recently updated the program to include Lakewater Instructor Level 1, a more accessible level of instructor certification, and the Lakewater Leader Certificate, which is an update of RCABC's old Camp Leader Certificate. See details below.

Moving Water

Bull River

Canoeing on rivers is a fun and challenging sport. Skilled paddlers in an appropriately outfitted canoe can take on surprisingly difficult whitewater. River canoeing can be quite diverse, ranging from gentle floats to intense solo playboating in short modern canoes to multi-day trips carrying 300lbs of gear on remote whitewater rivers. There are RCABC programs for all of these styles of river canoeing.

Also see RCABC's River Rescue Program and Advanced Moving Water Program.

Canoe Guide Certification

 Guide ProgramThe RCABC Canoe Guide Program provides a baseline standard of training, experience and professionalism for canoeists who wish to enter and/or advance in the canoe guiding industry. Expedition Guiding requires a diverse set of skills. Most apply to Day Guiding as well:

  • Paddling skill (tandem or solo)
  • Large Variety of Rescue Skills
  • Group and Risk Management
  • Emergency Planning and First Aid
  • Camping and Cooking Skills
  • Food Safety & Hygiene
  • Gear Mangement
  • Service Industry Attitude
  • Leave No Trace
  • Interpretive and Cultural Skills


RCABC is proud to offer this certification, which was developed by a large and diverse group of highly trained and experienced canoe guides and instructors over a period of many years. The cetification strikes a balance between being thorough and detailed, yet achievable within a reasonable period of time.

Certified Day and Expedition Guides with current RCABC memberships are listed in the Guide Database and available to the public or employers.





The canoe day guide course was developed for training guides that lead clients on trips without an overnight component. The trip can be 1 hour to a full day. RCABC recommends this course and certification as minimum basic training for commercial guides on lakes or safe runs of slow, Grade 1 moving water with no hazards. Day guide candidates will:

  • learn to paddle solo and tandem
  • learn to lead effective rescues
  • gain experience leading and managing a group on open water
  • work on communication and risk management skills
  • pre-trip safety meeting
  • basic teaching/coaching skills

Employers of day guides are expected to provide additional training and orientation to the waterway. 


None, although some watersports background and any teaching or leadership experience is an asset.


  • RCABC LW Paddler Level 1 and 2 certificate (or proof of equivalent experience or certification)
  • Successful completion of  RCABC Day Guide Course (1 day)
  • Proof of current 16hr First Aid or Wilderness First Aid
  • Endorsements (Optional) – Moving Water, Ocean Canoe, Big Canoe and SUP Paddler

Three days if starting with no experience. One day if candidate has RCABC Lakewater Level 1 and 2.

Assessment is based on the the following scenarios and practice situations:

  • Lead canoe on open water (exposure to wind and small waves)
  • Pre-trip safety meeting
  • Stroke teaching/coaching
  • Rescue leadership
  • Group Management

Leadership during activities and scenario resolution will be the primary tools for assessing candidate leadership and practical skills. Assessment should consider that this is an introductory course and students are not expected to be considered experienced guides, and further training by employers is needed.



The Expedition Guide course is designed for people that have previous camping experience and basic lake and river paddling training, who wish to upgrade those skills specifically for commercial overnight or expedition guding on rivers or large lakes. It is intended to set a baseline standard of professionalism and skill for the guiding industry. Employers and guides are expected to continue skill development, and orientation to specific waterways is still required. But the guiding certificates provide a thorough, high level foundation.


  • RCABC Lakewater Level 3, Advanced Tandem (or equivalent training/experience)
  • RCABC Moving Water Level 1, Basic Tandem (or equivalent training/experience)
  • Camping experience is highly recommended



  • RCABC Lakewater Level 3 and Moving Water Level 1 or higher is achieved
  • Expedition Guide Assessment is successfully completed during course
  • 40 hour Wilderness First Aid or Equivalent
  • Minimum trip Log of 10 overnights in 2 separate trips 
  • Optional Endorsements - Proof of certification is provided for Ocean Canoe  or Big Canoe Leader. Endorsements are written onto Guide Certificate.


Minimum six days if prerequisites are met. Minimum 10 days if prerequisites are included in the course.

The Expedition Guide course simulates a commercially guided trip. In addition to logging river time, many skills are developed:

  • Paddling skill (tandem or solo)
  • Large Variety of Rescue Skills
  • Communication
  • Group Management and Teamwork
  • Emergency Planning and Risk Management
  • Camping Skills
  • Food Prep and Cooking Skills
  • Food Safety & Hygiene
  • Navigation
  • Emergency Scenarios
  • Service Industry Attitude
  • Leave No Trace
  • Interpretive and Cultural Skills

These skills are introduced or upgraded using hands on, experiential training that can only be provided by actually leading groups of paddlers on a river trip, including group cooking and camp set up. Expedition Guide courses can also include "clients" to make the experience even more practical. Candidates are given regular feedback thorough debriefing and a formalized assessment process. Pre-study of some material is required, as is meal preparation and preparation of interpretive materials to be presented on the trip.


RCABC Canoe Tripping Instructor Certificates and Expedition Guide Certificates have a lot of similar content. A process is being developed for Expedition Guide Certificate holders to become Tripping Instructors and vice versa. Contact the RCABC Executive for further details.



The content of the Day Guide Instructor Certificate is in development. Currently, the proposed requirements are a combination of the following certification, experience and assessment:

  • Lakewater Instructor Level 2
  • Documented Moving Water Training
  • Expedition Guide Certificate
  • First Aid Cetificate
  • Canoe Instruction Experience
  • Day Guiding Experience
  • Assessment by co-teacing one or more day guide courses
  • Assessment by a committee

Contact the Executive for more information.



The content of the Expedition Guide Instructor Certificate is in development. Currently, the proposed requirements are a combination of the following certification, experience and assessment:

  • Lakewater Instructor Level 2
  • Documented Moving Water Instructor
  • Expedition Guide Certificate
  • First Aid Cetificate
  • Canoe Instruction Experience
  • Expedition Guiding Experience
  • Assessment by co-teacing one or more Expedition Guide courses
  • Assessment by a committee

Contact the Executive for more information.



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