Half a lifetime ago, I was a very keen canoeist (as in, knocking on the bottom of international standard in slalom K1, good national level in slalom C1, good club level in marathon K1 and K2, paddling UK and alpine grade 4 for fun). I've taught most classes, including open Canadian. All of this was a quarter century ago, but principles are principles, and I do get back into somebody else's boat for a play every couple of years.
They're a great way of getting around - it is well worth doing a basic skills course to about 3-star or inland proficiency level if you're going to get the best from it, but even a 1-star course will at least teach you how to go in a straight line, turn onto the heading you want, and deal with a capsize.
What would I buy for Flinty's mission spec? Probably a 2-3 person Canadian, a couple of mid-range wooden paddles, couple of comfortable buoyancy aids (NOT lifejackets), couple of canoeing cagoules ("cags") and a reasonable size waterproof bag or two for lunch, personal kit and dry clothes. Probably a polyethelene boat that can be stored on a couple of joists in the corner of the garden, is incredibly hard to break. Don't forget to buy a roofrack and some long straps (not rope).
I've never tried the brand out, but this is the sort of thing I think you want... https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Canadian-Can ... rk:29:pf:0
Equally, learn on a course first, so you know enough to try out a boat and know you're happy with it before you buy. And if it's for very occasional use, see what's for sale second hand at the local canoe club, or go along to a show and see what people have brought along to sell, you'll save a lot of money.
I am Spartacus, and so is my co-pilot.