September 22, 2014

Canoe trips offer chance to step back in time

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Visitors to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center can experience the life of an 18th century fur trader during a voyageur canoe program on Oct. 4. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is providing the giant canoe and IDNR employee Tim Bischoff will portray voyageur trader Jean Baptist LaMontagne.  Bischoff will discuss the fur trading business and talk to participants as if they were prospective candidates to work as crewmembers.  Visitors will then take a ride in the 2,000-pound canoe, which seats up to 20 people. 

Sessions will start each hour beginning at 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. There is, however, no noon-hour canoe trip. Other displays of historical interest will also be on site at Touch of Nature, located about eight miles south of Carbondale off of Giant City Road. 

The rides are free.  However, pre-registration by Friday, Sept. 26, is required, by contacting the Giant City State Park Visitor’s Center at 618/457-4836. 

Organizers are encouraging scouting organizations and similar groups to attend but everyone is welcome.    There will be a small craft safety-certified person onboard for Girl Scout safety checkpoints. 

The IDNR voyageur canoe will also be at Touch of Nature for the center’s free “Breaking the Surface” community paddling event on Oct. 11.  Visit for details about that event and other programming.