Ole Evinrude was born on a farm in Christiana, Norway on April 19, 1877, one of elevenchildren born to Andrew and Beatta Evinrude. At the age of five, Ole moved with his family toAmerica, settling in Cambridge, Wisconsin. It was on the journey to the US that Ole fell in lovewith boats and the motors that powered them. He spent much of the oceanic voyage in the engineroom of the ship, fascinated by all that he saw.
In America, life was much the same as it had been in Norway. Oles father, having lostthree uncles to the sea, persuaded Ole to put aside his longing for a maritime life and concentrateon farming and landscaping. After dropping out of school in the third grade, Ole workedalongside his father on the family farm and in a tobacco warehouse as a sorter. Soon Ole becamea household name among the neighboring farms for his ability to repair broken tools that wouldusually have required a trip to the blacksmiths shop.
With money saved from his job at the warehouse, Ole bought a subscription to amechanical-science magazine and began to build a sailboat out of lumber from his fatherswoodshed. His father was furious at the time and money he felt Ole had wasted on the effort andbroke the boat to pieces for firewood. Devastated but not defeated, Ole began again to buildanother sailboat. This time he hid the pieces throughout the farm until a few months after hissixteenth birthday when his father went out of town. During his fathers absence, which lastedonly a few days, Ole assembled his handcrafted18-foot sailboat and docked it in the lake. Whenhis father returned home and asked about the boat, Ole confessed that he had made it. Unlikewhat he was expecting, Oles father was impressed by his sons efforts and gave his blessing forOle to pursue his dreams.
That same summer Ole began to use his boat to ferry sightseers around Lake Ripley,charging 25 cents per person. He saved enough money to move to Madison, where he became anapprentice machinist in the Fuller and Johnson farm machinery shop. While working, Olebecame interested in an idea that he had read about in his mechanical-science magazine. The ideawas to power a boat, and possibly a carriage, with a new type of gasoline engine. This ideastayed with Ole as he moved from job to job. In 1900, he landed at the E.P. Allis Company inMilwaukee, where he was employed as a pattern maker; a profession that would serve him wellin the years to come.