FOCUS - NOVEMBER 2017 5 town because of heavy rain. We were happy, but soaked. We started in a snowstorm, ended in rain!” Then came another dose of reality. Discussions with locals discouraged thoughts of staying on, and the group – horses, wagon and all – returned to Ontario (by modern means!). Interest in Barbara’s once-in-a-life- time experience, she says, “has gone in spurts.” One came through her sis- ter, a partner in Haugen’s Restaurant, in the late 90s. “They wanted to do a western theme,” Barbara recalls. “We gladly supplied memorabilia from the trip, of course.” A number of local businesses, she adds, contributed to the event’s success. “A Scugog Island blacksmith offered his services. Tyrone Mills supplied lumber, Home Hardware gave us paint, Brian’s Towing moved the wagon around, Port Perry Auto Glass & Trim did a tarp, and we had assistance from Larry Emmerson, P.P. Print, and Lake Scugog Lumber. The whole area was very supportive. “Later, we helped with their Christmas Parade. Santa was thrilled to ride in a covered wagon!” In addition to speaking engage- ments, Barbara plans a book about her unique experience. “Interest is escalating. Homestead- ing and travelling west in covered wagons are definitely part of our Canadian heritage. And that’s what ‘Canada-150’ is all about.” While the public learns about her trip, Barbara has discovered details about her own past. “Synchronicities keep popping up. I learned, after the fact, that my grandfather was an Alberta home- steader, near Peace River. We may well have followed the same trails, generations apart.” We’re shaped by accumulated experience; it’s an essential aspect of growing into adulthood. Barbara Houghton’s singular westward trek lies beyond the boundaries of most early-adult experiences – “far out!” a hippie would exclaim about that undertaking – but it helped to mold the person she became. And because of that uniqueness, it continues to resonate today: with Barbara and with a curious public, enchanted by the exhilarating tales of her real-life adventure. By Scott Mercer, Focus on Scugog John and Barbara in 1976.