Horses & Heroes

It is always a thrill to see a wagon train rolling down the trail.  Trekkers gather for a couple of days as kinfolk and friends, around a campfire, sharing food & music & the journey of the trail.  Moving at the speed of horses shifts awareness and brings to mind earlier times. One must settle in for the slow ride and surrender to the pace.  Some of the nicest folks we have ever met are horse people.

redrivercartThe first who comes to mind is the late Roy Scott.  He and his dear wife Marjorie bought land next to the Heinsburg staging area and along AB’s Iron Horse Trail.  Roy was a lean, tall, crooked old cowboy sporting a big hat and a western bandanna.  I got to know the Scotts over the original 34 km of AIHT.  We knew this trail would help preserve Alberta’s history.  Roy built authentic Red River carts right down to the shaganappi on the wooden wheels.  He would go wherever he was invited to show those carts: Metis Crossing, the Alberta Legislature grounds, the 125th North West Mounted Police Ride in 1999.  In 2003, to celebrate the grand opening of AIHT, Roy drove a team & wagon from Heinsburg to Abilene, a three day journey.

Right down the trail behind Roy comes George Wayne.  Well past 80, George has promised Western Canadian Wagon Trainhis Sweet Lorraine that he will retire from trails & horses.  But there always seems to be ‘just one more thing to take care of first’.  With best buddies Bert & Carol Davidson they support the Athabasca Landing Trail, and Alberta’s Iron Horse Trail among others.  Their Great Western Wagon Train followed the 2005 Trail Relay from Lamoureux to Heinsburg.  July 26 – 29 they will be camped at the Lindbergh staging area and traveling on AIHT.  Then they move on to Haying in the 30’s.

My third hero is an organization not a person, located at Mallaig on AIHT. Haying in the 30’s helps cancer patients financially with extra expenses they face during treatment.  They raise upwards of $200,000 hosting horse-powered farming demos over the August long weekend.  Everything is free and everyone is welcome.  Donations from those who attend are generous.  Get there early for the opening parade of horses and farm machinery.

A final salute goes to the Irvine family of Lindbergh.  Morris received a double-lung transplant six years ago. To thank donors and to support the program, he and others hold the “Second Chance Trail Ride” fundraiser.  This year’s fifth annual had  318 riders and raised $82,000 dollars.

The TransCanada Trail is the perfect place for a wagon train.


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