The last thing to do with your new canoe paddle is to put a protective finish on it. You have 2 main choices in types of finish. Surface coatings and penetrationing coatings.
Surface coatings are any of the 'paint' type finishes such as Varnish, Enamal, Paint, ect..
Penetrating coatings are things like Linseed oil, Danish Oil, ect..
The main difference is maintance versus comfort. The surface coatings are lower maintance, protect the wood better in regards to bumps and nicks. But the tradeoff is a surface that is harder on your skin.
The oils provide a soft comfortable surface for your hands, but require more maintance with frequent wipedowns and provide little to no protection from rocks, sand, ect..
In the end it's up to you which you go with, both have strong positives.
For this example i'm using varnish for its low maintance properties. The application is pretty straightforward and the pictures are shown after 2 coats we're applied.