Teenage members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pull handcarts along logging roads near Lake Cowichan. They were re-creating treks across the Great Plains by Mormon pioneers in the mid-19th century. (Photos courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Victoria area teens take a step back in time

Group of youth recreate 19th century crossing of the Great Plains by Mormon pioneers

About 80 teenagers from the Greater Victoria area recently spent four days pulling and pushing handcarts up and down logging roads near Lake Cowichan. They slept on the ground, and went without digital technology, daily showers and other modern amenities

And generally had a good time.

The teenagers, along with adult leaders and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were re-enacting the crossing of the Great Plains by Mormon pioneers in the mid-19th century.

By the time the transcontinental railway was completed in 1869, about 70,000 Mormon migrants had crossed the plains. Most did so in wagons drawn by horses or oxen, but some could not afford that mode of transportation. About 3,000 immigrants from Britain and Scandinavia pulled handcarts on the 2,000-kilometre journey from Iowa and Nebraska to the Salt Lake Valley.

The 2017 re-creation of a handcart trek was not meant to imitate the original journey in every detail, said Dan and Cheryl Sulzen, leaders of the committee that organized the trek, but to give the youth a glimpse of the hardships and challenges people faced in an earlier time. Girls wore sunbonnets and long dresses; boys were cloth trousers and brimmed hats — no blue jeans or baseball caps.

“The aim was to teach lessons in faith and perseverance,” said Dan Sulzen. “And it succeeded. We saw kids who were discouraged at first rise to the occasion and help each other.”

Taryn Koide, 15, was a bit nervous about participating in the trek – pulling a heavy handcart up and down hills and along about 20 kilometres of rough mountain roads didn’t sound very appealing.

“But it was worth it,” she said, as she learned about the problems pioneers faced, and she learned what she could do.

“I knew it would be kind of fun, but it was a lot more than that,” said Nathan Paul, 15. “It helped me understand the past a lot better. It was definitely worthwhile.”

Mannie Sharma, 17, isn’t descended from migrants who crossed the Great Plains, but he said he feels he has much in common with those people – he was born in India and immigrated to Canada with his family.

“My family also came to a new land, an unknown land, looking for a better life,” he said.

The event was based at Scouts Canada’s Camp Woodlands on the shore of Lake Cowichan.

Dan Sulzen said while the trek was based on historical events, the event was more about the future than the past.

“We wanted the youth to look to the past for lessons that will help them in the future,” he said. “In some ways, they face more difficult challenges today than the pioneers faced in the 19th century.

“This trek gave them the opportunity to learn what they can really do, and to learn the satisfaction of overcoming adversity.”

 

Just Posted

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

MISSING: 32-year-old Heather Limer last seen in Victoria

Limer was last seen in the 800-block of Johnson Street on Feb. 18

Black Press readers share photos of their favourite critters on #LoveYourPetDay

Greater Victoria is raining cats and dogs…and snails and goats

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Most Read