6,000-mile canoe, kayak trip topic of March 24 lecture at Burpee

Online Staff Report

Steve Simpson of Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill., will discuss “Boreal Odyssey: A 6,000-Mile Voyage by Canoe and Kayak from Illinois to the Mouth of the Yukon River” in a Burpee Museum lecture at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 24.

Simpson’s presentation is free to members, free with paid admission to Burpee or $5 for the lecture only.

Experience this 6,000-mile voyage as if you were right there. The second leg followed the route of the fur traders. Simpson will share history of the fur trade and the Native Americans and their traditional way of life, which was still lived in the 1970s, as well as background on the glaciers that carved this landscape. His three-summer trip was a life-changing experience.

The journey took place during three summers from 1975 to 1978, starting from Dempster Street beach in Evanston, Ill., and ending at the mouth of the Yukon River. The route followed the west shore of lake Michigan, through the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Mary’s River to Lake Superior, then along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Grand Portage, Minn.

The second year followed the traditional fur-trade route along the Minnesota border, down the Winnipeg River, through Lake Winnipeg, up the Churchill River and into the Athabasca River to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The third year took Simpson down the Athabasca, Slave and Mackenzie rivers, across the Richardson Mountains, then down the Porcupine and Yukon rivers to the Bering Sea.

The first two years were in a klepper kayak, and the final leg was in an 18-foot Grumman canoe with a friend Simpson had met during the year two trip.

Simpson teaches geology at Highland Community College. He has participated in Burpee Museum’s dinosaur digs and has led field trips of Highland students to both Utah and Montana dig sites. He is an active board member of Burpee Museum.

Burpee Museum of Natural History is at 737 N. Main St., Rockford. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., daily. General admission is $10 for adults, $9 for ages 7-17 and free for children 6 and younger.

For more information, call (815) 965-3433 or visit www.burpee.org.

The next lecture in the Burpee series features Edward Jakaitis of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey discussing “Pehistory of the Middle Rock River Valley” at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 21.

Posted March 20, 2013

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