Janée Matteson owner of KAYAKMORRIS.com, was born and raised in Morris, IL. She has been a lifelong outdoor sportswoman, from her early days of fur trapping on the Illinois river in the 80’s, to duck hunting with her father annually on those same shores. Janée graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with one Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and a second in Kinesiotherapy. While at UIC she competed as a member of the Division 1 softball team.
After completing college, she worked for the first Director of Physical Therapy on the PGA Tour, which had since developed a golf specific medical wellness program. She traveled across the country teaching physical therapy clinic owners how to integrate, market and deliver this program into their own business until the year 2000. She then opened Fit 4 Golf, Inc./Body Alignment Center which has been in business since then serving Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. In 2010, Janee opened Kayak Morris seeking to join her love of the outdoors with teaching others about the importance of its preservation. Her mission is to reunite families by reconnecting them with the outdoors. This passion has evolved into a unique approach in offering a combination of outdoor recreation/outdoor education. Today this has become even more increasingly urgent. Technology has become a large component of daily life and therefore less time is spent exploring our outdoor world. It has become urgent that we teach kids(of all ages) the importance of management/preservation of our vital natural resources. Janée cites that kids have developed “Acute Nature Deficit Disorder” and she has made it her mission to reintroduce kids to the benefits of recreating outdoors and learning about the outdoor world that we live in. Janée is an ACA L2 Certified Kayak Instructor. She also holds a BCU(British Canoe Union) 2 Star certification in Sea Kayaking with an emphasis on water safety and rescue. In 2015, Janee completed her United States Coast Guard, Captains License certification and holds designations as both OUPV and a Masters License(25 ton.) She plans to use this license to have educational boat tours on the Illinois river and beyond. Janée is a Boy Scouts of America, Merit Badge Counselor for Kayaking, Geocaching, and Bird study. Janée is excited to be able to offer area residents new opportunities to explore the area and recreate in ways not previously available. She is also excited to introduce the Morris Area to nonresidents and showcase what a gem “River City” is!
Business History: Entrepreneurship runs deep in Matteson’s roots. Her relatives were some of the first in the Morris area. Her great-great-great grandfather, Peter Griggs, was one of the first settlers
He built a log cabin near what is now the aquaduct(over Nettle Creek in Gebhard Woods) in 1837 and that land is still owned by her father Don, today, some 176 years later! Peter Griggs’ son, Jacob went on to be instrumental in the growth and development of Grundy County from the wild frontier into what it is known as today. The street that leads down to Stratton Park from Calhoun street is named Griggs Drive to commemorate them.
Her Great Grandfather, Melvin Matteson was known to locals as the “Ice” man. He operated a vital business to the area known as, Matteson Ice Company. He started the business in 1900 when he was just 20 years old. He would cut 50 pound blocks of ice out of the Mazon River and store them in the “icehouse”, which was located on the south bank of the Illinois River just west of the river bridge. He would then deliver the blocks to area businesses and residents. In 1905, Melvin, built his home at 503 E. Illinois Ave, and operated his business out of that location which is still standing today. Melvin operated the Ice business until around 1930 when a great flood on the Illinois River destroyed the Icehouse.
Harry Matteson delivering a 50 pound block of ice that was harvested from Mazon Creek confluence(Illinois River) circa 1925
Melvin’s son, Harry Matteson(Janee’s grandfather), then built a home at 110 Pine St. and reopened the Ice business in 1934. He remained in business as Matteson Refrigeration Sales and Service for over 50 years, until he retired in 1980. Her maternal grandfather, Les Johnson, was also a business owner in Morris, forming Johnson Glass & Lock on Liberty St. and also served as a City Councilman. Janee’s father is currently serving as an Alderman for the City Council.