Paddles have developed in countless forms around the globe for many reasons; flatwater vs. whitewater, shallow vs. deep water, boat size and shape, need for combined weapon and paddle, recognition of tribes .... The narrower voyageur paddles shown below by virtue of their more gradual entry and exit and lighter force on the arms allowed long days of paddling for example.
There is something about making a paddle by hand out of wood that provides a sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the skill of those in the past who used much more basic tools than we do now. For a great overview of paddle types I recommend you visit Murat's site listed below. He has added some beautiful decoration of his own to some designs and applied traditional native colouring to many types of paddles he has built. Make sure you take a look at the variety of paddle and paddlemaking topics along the right hand side of his webpage.
That's one of his paddles on the header of this page.