My Epic Jour­ney re­vis­its tough con­di­tions of the de­pres­sion era

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

A pair of vin­tage ve­hi­cles have car­ried two Medicine Hat cou­ples along a jour­ney which rec­ol­lected the hard­ships of the Great De­pres­sion.

Bart and Lisa Camp­bell are trav­el­ling in a 1926 Chevro­let af­fec­tion­ately called Stella, while Fred and Teri Holt are mo­tor­ing in a 1929 Ford Model A.

The cou­ples stopped in Swift Cur­rent last Thurs­day dur­ing My Epic Jour­ney, a just over 1,000 kilo­me­tre jour­ney which is re-trac­ing a por­tion of a jour­ney taken by a down­trod­den fam­ily dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion. A photo of the Fehr fam­ily, who made the har­row­ing trip in 1934, is fea­tured promi­nently on the 1920s ve­hi­cles which were used for the 10 day trip from Medicine Hat to Hague. The Fehr’s were forced to re­turn to Hague af­ter two dis­as­trous farm­ing years in Peace River, AB, mak­ing the trip with seven chil­dren, no money, and just stop­ping to work along the way to con­tinue their trip home.

My Epic Jour­ney fol­lowed a sim­i­lar phi­los­o­phy, with the trav­ellers do­ing odd jobs and re­ly­ing on the gen­eros­ity of strangers to as­sist them with fu­el­ing the ve­hi­cle, find­ing meals, and lo­cat­ing places to spend the night.

“Orig­i­nally, I just thought I would take a car trip be­cause I love old cars,” Bart Camp­bell said dur­ing their stop over in Swift Cur­rent. “And then I thought, well maybe I should take the car trip they took. And then I thought well maybe I should ask the fam­ily some ques­tions just so I have more idea of what they did.”

“And then it spi­ralled to the fact that I re­al­ized they had taken their car trip with no money, in des­per­ate times.”

The cou­ples started their trip on Tues­day, Septem­ber 4 when they drove from Medicine Hat to Leader. Af­ter that ini­tial stop, ex­cept for planned daily end lo­ca­tions, they have just fig­ured out ways to get to their next des­ti­na­tion with sup­port from peo­ple along the way.

“It has fig­ured it­self out ev­ery sin­gle day be­cause Saskatchewan peo­ple just step up. We’ve just left it in faith’s hands. They’ve just stepped up and helped us,” he said.

A Face­book page de­tail­ing their trip lists story af­ter story of gen­eros­ity of kind­ness by com­plete strangers along with friends and rel­a­tives who aided the trek.

“I’m not sur­prised at all of the gen­eros­ity and kind­ness of peo­ple. At all. But I’m sur­prised at the level it’s at. It’s be­yond the level I an­tic­i­pated.”

And while they did have some sup­ports along the way, it was ad­mit­tedly dif­fi­cult to be re­ly­ing on the gen­eros­ity of oth­ers to get from place to place.

“It has not been easy for my wife and I to sit on the side of the road and ask for help. That’s been very chal­leng­ing, but we’re glad we’re do­ing it.”

“It’s re­ally over­whelm­ing emo­tion­ally for both my wife and I that peo­ple just come up, and they re­al­ize what we’re trying to do.”

Camp­bell couldn’t help but think this was a sim­i­lar out­pour­ing of sup­port which the Fehr’s ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing their time of need at the height of the de­pres­sion.

“So if peo­ple think its changed since 82 years ago, I feel peo­ple are just as awe­some as they were then. You just give them a chance.”

Once ar­riv­ing in Swift Cur­rent from Cabri they had some mi­nor car re­pairs to make, so they re­ceived lo­cal help to get their ve­hi­cles run­ning prop­erly. They also spent a few hours work­ing for meal money and gas money be­fore en­joy­ing a meal served at Men­non­ite Her­itage Vil­lage.

The re­main­der of the trip took them to Moose Jaw and a day at the Suka­nen Thresh­ing Bee, be­fore turn­ing north to­wards El­bow and Out­look. The fi­nal two days were sched­uled to take them along back roads to Saska­toon, and then the fi­nal leg of the jour­ney to Hague yes­ter­day.

Camp­bell ad­mit­ted mak­ing the trip in a vin­tage ve­hi­cle is con­sid­er­ably dif­fer­ent from when they scouted the route in a mod­ern ve­hi­cle back in Au­gust.

“The speed of our travel. Un­til you sit in our driv­ers’ seat, and the heat of the car, and the steer­ing is more dif­fi­cult, you don’t re­ally re­al­ize how ex­haust­ing the trip is com­pared to when I drove it out with a dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle.”

Fred Holt added that the pace of their trip is im­pacted by peo­ple who are cu­ri­ous about their effort.

“When you do stop, such as at the gas sta­tion, you can’t get out of the gas sta­tion be­cause every­body is look­ing at you and wav­ing at you. Those are all things you’ve got to deal with too. But it’s all good and the peo­ple in Saskatchewan are very friendly and very giv­ing. Plus, they seem to be very re­spect­ful on the high­way.”

“It’s great to have all that in­ter­est, but when you’re out on the open road there’s not a bet­ter feel­ing. It’s nice driv­ing down the Saskatchewan high­ways,” he added.

BOOSTER PHOTO/SCOTT AN­DER­SON

Bart and Lisa Camp­bell along with Fred and Teri Holt stopped in Swift Cur­rent on Septem­ber 6 dur­ing the first leg of My Epic Jour­ney.

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