Mormon Trekkers in Saskatchewan
Period costume and wooden wagons made the re-enactment of the Mormon trek across the northern US in the 1840s all the more real—even though this trek took place in the 1990s in western Saskatchewan.
We were tired! We were going to bed! Our bedroom window was open wide. I heard rattling noises on the gravel, people’s voices, people talking just outside our driveway. Was someone’s car parked on the road with the radio on? I ventured outside. The sounds persisted.
My husband Lloyd, his brother Herb, and I had enjoyed a busy day mowing grass, trimming trees, and getting an old shack ready to torch at our farm near Stranraer. Our granddaughter Lindsay Klassen was with us for the weekend. It was about 11 o’clock on Friday night, July 7, 1995.
I called the men and Lindsay outside to listen. Suddenly two figures appeared from out of the darkness walking up our driveway.
“Hello!” a man said. “Is this our campsite?”
Bewildered, I hesitated in replying. ”I don’t think so.”
“Can we camp here for the night?” pleaded the other.
“You must be lost,” I said. “How many of you are there?”
“About 150 of us,” he answered.
My jaw dropped! Did I hear right? 150 people? “Not very likely,” I replied. There wasn’t enough room in our yard for that many campers. The two very tired and seemingly desperate fellows explained that they were part of a wagon trek. These Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints members were re-enacting the Mormon trek from the eastern US to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the late 1840s.
The devout group in 1995 had left the Mountain View campsite at Stranraer early that morning with only a ration of water and a biscuit for the day. Their trail master, who was on horseback, had gone ahead to scout for their base camp in the Stranraer Hills and had not yet returned. These trekkers saw our yard light and decided to head for our farmyard hoping to find a place to camp for the night. Not everyone in the group had arrived. Some people were still walking. Because it was so late, I volunteered to pick up the stragglers in our truck and lead the weary wanderers to a site east of our yard where they could camp overnight.
I wasn’t so tired any more at the thought of this unexpected late night adventure. With little Lindsay sitting beside me, one traveller in the truck, and the other sitting on the tailgate, I drove cautiously out of the driveway. I was absolutely amazed as the headlights of the truck revealed loaded wagon handcarts and groups of people dressed in pioneer clothing, standing, sitting, or lying in the ditch along the road to the top of the hill. It had been a very hot sunny day.
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