It is possible to be charged with impaired operation of vessel while paddling a canoe. Impaired canoeing can’t be all that uncommon, if only because drinking in a canoe has it’s own slang term.
And yes, a canoe is a vessel under the law, and such charges have happened before. Not to say these things occur every day, but some of these drinking-while-doing-X cases make for some strange reading. Like the Windsor woman who was charged with impaired operation of a Zamboni.
Coming back to canoes, a brief look at online forums reveals that certain random inspections of canoes happen, especially in popular well-trafficked areas, like Lake Simcoe.
Like being charged with impaired operation of a car, the penalties for impaired operation of a vessel are the same – lost license, increased insurance, fines and criminal record.
Of course, these laws were written with power boats in mind, and it’s perhaps unlikely that impaired charges against canoeists will ever be commonplace. However, with our unpredictable Canadian weather and the general tippy-ness of a canoe or kayak, a good policy is to keep the drinking on the shore.