Before they moved to Florida, John and Evelyn participated for years in canoe club events around the Chicago area. Besides the usual canoe and kayak trips, there were also Voyageur encampments - reenactments of the French Voyageur traditions, including things like camping, tanning hides, sewing clothes, blacksmithing, singing bawdy old songs, and cooking food. One of the highlights was the use of the huge Voyageur canoe replicas, made by Ralph Frese (1926-2012), owner of the Chicagoland Canoe Base. The photo above was taken by Evelyn when she and John attended a weekend encampment on the Kankakee River in July, 1990. That time they didn't participate but just went to enjoy the public demonstrations of crafts and paddling, as well as visit with friends. Ralph is the person standing in the stern of the 34 foot long canoe.
Evelyn sometimes paddled in the large canoes, usually the 26 foot models, and was often the lead paddler at the front, setting the pace for the group. She participated in trips on Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. She also paddled on a small lake in Kickapoo State Park, in central IL, while on a camping trip with Valerie one spring in the late 1970s. It was the end of the semester at the University of Illinois and Val (a student at U of I) had to hang around to perform with the band at the commencement ceremony. In their free time, Ev and Val did some kayaking and happened to meet up with a park ranger and a group of paddlers who were about to try out one of the big canoes. The ranger wanted to be at the front but needed somebody with experience to paddle stern so he hailed the ladies and Val agreed to give it a shot. She managed to steer the boat around the lake without running aground or ramming the dock, but it took all the strength she could muster, and it felt like maneuvering a barge!