Hi Kimberly, I really feel for you. My school moved to Canvas from D2L, I remain using Moodle on my own. The Canvas forum feature is quite disappointing and unlikely to improve. One has difficulty implementing "Introduce yourself and attach a photo." Really! Give it a try and you will see what I mean. No in-context grading, replies are indented only one level deep, can't figure out who said what to who, no emoticons, only one attachment at a time, no way to present a nice group of topics, no ability to search discussions, some posts get sent without identifying the author, no integration with the grade book, and probably more missing features. The Canvas discussion tool is barely acceptable for the simple "give me one response to ..." type discussions. So your comment about "very very flat" is being kind to Canvas.
My school seems to suggest going external, using a product like Piazza. And look at you! You are trying to find Moodle's internal code that you might be able to use. My feeling is that if one must use an external discussion tool, why not use Moodle for discussions?
Well, this won't happen at your school. It would be admitting that some administrators picked the wrong product.
Here on Moodle.org, we use Moodle for discussions, right? Not so with Canvas. Their community forums use a different product than their own. Seems that even Canvas has recognized that their own product can't effectively handle discussions.
So, what I see if that if you want a better discussion tool, don't use Canvas. If you want a better grade book, don't use Canvas. If you want a better quizzing engine, don't use Canvas. If you want a better community (like Moodle.org) for discussions, feature requests, bug reports, don't use Canvas. If you want a better system that allows students to track their progress, don't use Canvas.
So, for very simple-minded tasks, like posting a syllabus, sure Canvas is as easy as other LMSs.
I guess if one doesn't know anything about LMSs, Canvas does a better job marketing itself.
You seem to be an LMS administrator-type person, so you are stuck. In my own case, I am a professor, and I run Moodle on my own for my courses.
I will watch this topic to see where you end up.
Here is one real suggestion that maybe you have already done. Get involved in the Canvas Community discussions. Then, make a post just like you did here. If you want some sparks to fly, mention Moodle. Or leave Moodle off. See what you are told. Make some feature requests (they will be quickly canned, or "archived, as Canvas calls it.) Report back to us.