Like you, I've thought about, and looked into, building a canoe. But I lack a garage or basement usable for such a project. I'm sure others with much more experience will soon jump in here, but a decent starting point might be to look at the stuff at Bear Mountain Boats and Green Valley Boatworks. There will probably be other suggestions coming shortly.
Both of the above are mostly cedar strip plans and kits. These boats are a pretty big building project for most folks but the end result is light, beautiful, and I think its safe to say not as sturdy as an aluminum or royalex boat would be at a fraction of the cost and time. But folks who love strip boats love them a lot. They're so beautiful that personally I'd be reluctant to paddle them in many places where they might get beat up.
Another popular home boat-building method is "stitch and glue" which uses a high quality plywood, usually 1/4", that is then glassed over. They build relatively quickly compared to strippers. These are usually kayaks but there are a few stitch and glue canoe kits out there... but I've never seen or paddled a stitch and glue canoe so I can't really say anything about them with any authority. Don't know if I'd want to hit a rock in rapids very hard with one though... the s&g kayaks I've been in felt a tad delicate and a canoe wouldn't have the inherent structural strength of a decked kayak.
So maybe that's something to get you started thinking about this. If you just want a canoe to paddle the easy, fast, cheap path is to buy something manufactured. Still, those I know who build their own love them dearly and apparently can't stop building them. Only you can say for sure, but if you've got the time, space, and skills building might be the way for you to go.
Gedi Convertible Helmet
PFD's (Life Jackets)
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
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