Bidding Goodbye To Evelyn Hannon

Evelyn Hannon: groundbreaker, inspirer, fearless traveller

I hope there is a woman cruising down the Amazon, or in a Japanese guest house, or perhaps enjoying an espresso in an Italian café who is reading this and saying, “Oh Evelyn. I would not be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you.”

In an era when “no husband meant no trip” Evelyn Hannon, who died this week in Toronto at age 79, founded a newsletter called Journeywoman to counsel, inspire and reassure women who wanted to travel on their own.  With her limitless optimism, good faith and fierce feminism, Evelyn built a wide and loyal following for the newsletter.

And then the internet happened. “25 years ago Mummy started an online newsletter without knowing how to work a computer,” her daughter Erica Ehm told the large group at the funeral. “She went on to be featured in Time, on Oprah, and People.” 

Journeywoman.comgrew to 55,000 subscribers in over 100 countries, despite its almost clunky appearance: it still looks like it was designed on a Gestetner, which is part of its charm. One of the guests at the funeral referred to it affectionately as “the shag carpet of websites.” Meanwhile her Twitter account – another outlet Evelyn took to like a duck to water – swelled to 43,000 followers. 

From the start, Evelyn treated Journeywoman as a place for women to share tips and guidance, and today the site offers advice on everything from how to handle nude beaches to dining solo and what to wear when flying. All supervised with her own good sense. After all, Evelyn was over 40 when she “threw on a backpack and started to travel around the world” and had handled countless travel challenges herself over the years.

As well as a mentor, a writer, and clearly ace grandmother, Evelyn was a style icon with her trademark kooky red glasses and an infinite wardrobe of scarves. Even her coffin, of plain pine decorated with oversized passport stamps, was classic Hannon.

“She told us we could do and be anything.  She gave us who we are,” Evelyn’s other daughter Leslie said through tears at the podium. Not just you, Erica and Leslie, but thousands of women around the world.  Thank you for sharing your mum with all of us.

If you would like to pay tribute to Evelyn, the family has asked that you contribute to the Princess Margaret Fight to End Cancer.

Safe travels Evelyn.


Cynthia Koomas - August 12, 2019 @ 16:40
So sorry for the loss of your beloved mother. Our friendship started at the Sorbonne one summer and continued for many years before she moved to Toronto. Our Friday night encounters at the Ritz are precious to me. Your mother was an inspiration to me with her gracious and beautiful personality. May see enjoy her last journey.

Randi Winter - May 3, 2019 @ 16:10
Women and the world itself lost one of the biggest advocates for openness to travel and experience the world on our own terms, know both we and where we visit, has been changed forever. Hope someone else will take up her passion project! Deepest condolences to the family and friends.

Hanna Uehre - May 3, 2019 @ 11:45
I was proud to call Evelyn a friend and an occasional lunch companion. She was an amazing woman and a true force of nature. I loved her stories... oh those stories ! And her energy and her soul for adventure. She was kind, she was truthful, and I once asked her to adopt me into her wonderful family. I will miss her so very much . RIP lovely Evelyn on your final Journey, woman.

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