I took your advice and went to find some of these cameras to hold. I don't like the Nikon 40/60. My friend has this camera (I forget which). I found the controls hard to find/understand. Also I'm so used to having the zoom lever on my old camera and this Nikon has the on/off lever switch in the exact same position that I kept accidentally turning it off. Haven't found anybody with Pentax cameras yet. Got a couple camera shop locations I haven't checked yet (just went to electronics stores so far).
The Olympus E series was uncomfortable and hard to grip. It hurt my wrist. I liked the controls and the feel of the Canon XSi. They didn't have the XTi. From what I can tell the body shape is the same. The changes made in the new XSi don't seem like anything I'd miss for the opportunity to save a lot of cash going with an older model. I've always bought my cameras one or two models behind the times to save some money.
I've been researching the Olympus sp570 a bit more. It seems it still has some of the problems my old one had. The big no-nos being trouble focusing in low light, purple fringes in high contrast, and high tendancy for noise in low light/high iso. I think I'll go the dSLR route. I guess I'll just have to forego the super long lens while in the canoe. Or be really careful & use the camera out of the water proof bag when I'm not moving and have no passengers to unsteady the canoe. Leaning towards the Canon but no decisions yet.