At FoxWorx, we mostly use a bent shaft canoe paddle but the paddling technique is pretty much the same for a straight canoe paddle. The canoe paddle should be perpenticular to the water and should follow in a straight line with the keel as our son Liam demonstrates in photo # 1. The force created will propel the canoe forward in a straight line. In photo #2 Liam demonstrates a good solid canoe paddle catch. The paddle is going in the water without much turbulence and the paddle enters the water almost vertical and he is keeping his arms straight and turns from his upper legs and torso. The power phase of stroke is shown in photo #3. The blade of the paddle is anchored firmly and he is pulling himself and the canoe to the paddle. His arms are straight and the torso is doing the work, and he is pushing down with his upper hand. This also demontrates proper shaft length, notice his upper hand is at brow height. Photo #4 shows the end of the stoke. Liam's hand is at his hip, notice the oblique angle of the blade, any longer stroke would pull the paddler down, not forward through the water. This is where a bent shaft canoe paddle is more efficient, the blade is more perpenticular to the water at this point.
This page is meant to help you to properly propel a canoe or kayak in a straight line. There are many strokes to turn a canoe or kayak, draws, rudders, pries; the best way to learn those is by taking a class, getting out paddling with a club or find a quiet section of water and practice, practice, practice. After over 30 years of paddling, I can still learn new tricks. That's what is fun about paddlin'