The Northwest Canoe Club was founded in 1974.
Dick Jenje and family became members of the club in 1975 after Gary Pickering had invited Dick to come and see if paddling would be good for our family. Back then it was very much a club comprising of families with lots of young children.
Paddle / race meetings were held at the back of the dam each weekend.
The first Gregory River Canoe race/event was held in 1974 by a number of paddling enthusiasts looking for a new adventure and to see if this event could work. In 1975 Dick entered the event with our eldest son Simon in a club built Canadian canoe. Dick was the oldest paddler at 47yrs and Simon was the youngest paddler at 9yrs. The paddles they used were not the same type as they used today. They made from a broom stick and some marine ply. Phil Holden saw Dick and Simon with these home-made paddles and provided them with a couple of paddles more suited for the race.
Over time Dick and the family became more and more involved in the club and eventually along with Vicky Pickering we were making all of the banners that go across the river at the finish line. The Jenje family every year using a block and tackle would raise the sponsors banner above the river line a few days before the main event. To help people find their way around from the road, we also made road signs showing people where the check pints were.
After 2 Gregory Races Dick and Simon parted way to paddle in single kayaks. This made for fierce paddling between the older club members Dick, Jan Van Ryt and Gunther Stien. Each weekend these guys would battle it out at the dam in a bid to see who had improved and who could out do who on the water.
At the 5th Gregory Canoe Race, Dick introduced his youngest son Steven to the race who was 12yrs at the time. They paddled a Laurie Fray built Canadian Canoe. Since then Steven has participated in every event.
Dick or otherwise known as “OLD MAN RIVER” participated in 30 full length races and as time went by he started paddling the short course race. He just wanted to be a part of this great event, no matter how small a part it was. One thing Dick loved about doing the short course was that he could now watch all of the other paddlers arrive at the finish line. Dick paddled his last race when he was 79yrs and if he was still around today I am sure he would still be paddling.
Dick was made a Life Member in 2002.