The definition of 'rapids' may have changed

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
The definition of 'rapids' cited at is "a part of a river where the current runs very swiftly" which originated in English from the Latin word rapidus around 1625–35. It appears to have had a different meaning on the Charles River in 1909 as shown in the postcard below or maybe the name of the area remained after the dams changed the flow rate.



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On the other hand, here are pictures of an "unmarked" rapid on the Great Whale River up in Quebec. That is one of our canoes, shameless I know, nearing the end of a 7 week trip.

Often times up north if it doesn’t have a drop (i.e. waterfall of some sort) it doesn’t show up on the map.


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Here in the Flatlands, gradient is often measured as miles per foot, instead of the more traditional feet per mile. Pictures like these make hearts go pitty-pat! :D
Newton Lower Falls

Newton Lower Falls is still an area of many carries. Dams, spillways and rapids still exist requiring a carry of about a half mile through town. My guess is the dam quieting the flow is correct, also the title of the postcard may just reflect the nearest point of reference on the Charles.