Image by Silviu on the street from Pixabay

A Brief History of Canes & Walking Sticks

Elderly person walking on path with cane in right hand


Originally used by shepherds and travelers to herd animals and as a self defense tool to keep would-be thieves at bay

Middle Ages: 

A scepter carried in the right hand was a symbol of royal power, while one in the left hand represented justice

The church also began to use staffs’ to denote its higher offices

Bishops were associated with hooked staffs’ as they were Shepherd to their congregation, and the hook represented the Bishop drawing in his flock to the church


Many rulers carried ornate staffs to represent their authority and longevity

These staffs further served to cement the ruler's social importance and improve their reputation

In 1702, men in London, England were required to carry a license to have a cane

It was a privilege to carry a cane, and if these protocols were not obeyed their license and cane could be revoked

Authorities would consider it an extreme violation of manners to carry a walking stick under one's arm, to brandish it in the air, to drag it on the ground, or to lean on it while standing

Walking sticks: 

Began to be constructed out of the stems of tropical grasses such as bamboo, cane and rattan, changing the word walking stick into the one we now know as walking "canes"

Walking sticks were associated with physical activity, such as hiking; whereas 'cane' was used for the elderly or those with a prolonged leg injury

Canes in the Modern Era: 

As an accessory walking sticks and canes replaced swords, which were then replaced by umbrellas for those who wanted to appear fashionable, high class, and part of upper society

This shift from accessory to medical device is a recent one. These devices are now more associated with elderly or less mobile persons and this stigma persists around the use


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.