Staff, or walking stick, are native English terms. Staffs could be
used for walking or for knocking guys into streams, if art and
literature are to be trusted.
The word "cane" came into English later (and more on "cane" in a bit).
The terms "bent cane" is used, so that implies they weren't all
A crook, a bent cane/stick, is another thing to consider. Some were
for hooking lambs or music hall performers. But some were walking
crooks--like a crutch. Archbishops use them still, right? Or
Bishops? (Somebody does...)
There's thought to have been a legal concept involving "hook or
crook." Estates had rights that went with them, as to tolls or
income or hunting or wood gathering. Sometimes people could not cut
firewood, but they could have what wood they could get "by hook or
crook," meaning if they could reach into the tree with a tool and and
pull some deadwood down, okay.
I looked up "crutch." It's a really old word: "Common Teutonic,"
says the Oxford English Dictionary.
I can't transcribe from that book anymore. There was a time when my
eyes were good enough, but I can't hold the magnifying glass and
type. But the early definitions talk about walking staffs. So in
the 10th century the word didn't necessarily mean a stick with a
horizontal piece on it. There are two origin words they think
might have come to bear on the English word. One survives in our
"crouch"--to need to stoop some. The other is "crutch/crotch"--a
place where a tree forks. Long, long before people had crotches,
trees had lots of crotches, and people who were building barns and
houses knew which were good for what. Long before people made lumber
out of trees and then made things from lumber, people looked at the
details of trees to find things already "made," already grown. There
were parts of trees that were used for post and beam construction,
and for hooks on walls (an upright beam might be chosen because it
had a branch coming out that could be used as roof support or a hook).
Having read through what the OED says for "cane," I wouldn't use it
for SCA purposes. The plant "cane" but because of sugar cane. The
first example of use under the definition of a walking stick is
discussion of people using them to swat other people. That's
probably still the first meaning in England (not in the U.S., where
people might've been whipped or spanked or paddled, but they weren't
so much "caned"). It's past the period about which you inquried
that the term "cane" meant a little bent walking stick, but you can
use a little bent walking stick and call it a walking stick or a crook.