The art of canoeing takes all the outdoor elements of backpacking but instead of using your lower body to do most of the work, you are using your upper body to pull a paddle through the water so you can propel your canoe forward.
Typically you are far enough away from civilization so you can hear and see what nature is all about. Like backpacking, you take the necessary gear that you need to survive for 2 to 3 days but you could easily turn into several weeks if you wanted to just by adding a bit more food. So in addition to a canoe, life jackets, some paddles, you essentially need a tent, some clothes, sleeping bag, some packs and food.
Now portaging is part of canoeing and it seems to mystify some people but one only needs to look back to our ancestors in the 1600s to see the true meaning of endurance and why portaging was necessary. Portaging is the act of carrying all of ones equipment (canoe included) from the end of one lake to the start of another. The one advantage we have over our ancestors is that more often than not, there is clearly defined a trail to follow instead of having to hack trees/brush down in order to get your gear through.
My hard rule for life to regular trips is that if you cannot make your portage in one trip, then you have too much equipment. For safety reasons, there should be at least two of you (the buddy system applies to most aspects of life) and typically one person will carry a backpack and the canoe. The other person will carry another backpack, the life jackets, paddles and a small waterproof bag that typically contains “the important stuff”.
I highly recommended that you try this and WHEN you do, I suggest going with either someone who has done it before or with a guide who will show you the ropes. If you do go, I highly recommend that you bring a portable hammock (nylon). Not only is it the best way to relax at the end of the day, you will be the envy of the camp.