The Hugh Heward Challenge is an annual paddling event commemorating British fur trader Hugh Heward and seven Frenchmen’s 50 mile sprint in two birch bark canoes down the Grand River on April 24, 1790.
Michigan Historian and Topologist Jim Woodruff brought Hugh’s historical trek to the attention of world renowned canoeist Verlen Kruger and asked if the modern paddler could accomplish such a feat in the same amount of time- from dawn to dusk. Verlen accepted the challenge and invited others to join; The Hugh Heward Challenge was born.
In 2009 over 100 paddlers participated in the reenactment of all or part of Hugh’s route from Dimondale to Portland.
A good friend of Verlen’s, Charlie Parmalee put together this video of this special person.