FOCUS - NOVEMBER 2017 3 “Sure, we were hippies,” Barbara Houghton laughs. “The idea of leav- ing the city behind appealed to us.” An open advertisement in a local newspaper captured the attention of Toronto native Barbara, her brother, sister-in-law, and a longtime friend. “An organizer was looking for people to make a journey in covered wagons from Kleinburg, Ontario to Peace River, Alberta,” she recalls. “We’d arrive like homesteaders and live our lives that way – purchasing undeveloped land and working it like pioneers.” The ad’s concept, she said, ap- pealed to a surprisingly broad audience. “The initial information meet- ing was packed. Most people were in their 20s – singles, couples, and families – so we weren’t sure if our application would be accepted. “Some did want an escape from mainstream society. Our motivation was simpler: we’d never seen the West, had horses and a love of the outdoors. None of us had careers or homeownership responsibilities. But we certainly researched the legal requirements before we left.” Early 70s hippies celebrated a “back-to-basics” philosophy. While many espoused that ideal, Barbara Houghton actually lived it. Though the end result differed from the initial goal, the experience deeply shaped her life. (If you grew up in the 1960s or before, the concept of “hippie” is familiar. But if you didn’t…. Predominently young people proudly proclaimed themselves hippies, a widespread countercultural movement in the late 60s. Hippies actively sought to rebel against established norms wherever possible: colourful clothes, so-called “free love,” and a return to roots – living off the land in communal colonies – bound like-minded individuals together. Admirable principles, those, and typical of that era. But as time passed, many found their hippie lifestyle unsustainable. For most, the idealism of carefree youth, ironically, was replaced by a more traditional approach.) In spite of its overtones, Barbara’s tale is only superficially one of hippiedom. In truth, hers is a story of self-discovery, determination – and good, old-fashioned adventure. ...................... Please turn to page 4 Barb and her brother John Houghton sharing their story at the Sunday Speaker Series held at the Scugog Heritage Centre on Sunday October 15.