‘It’s renewed my faith in people’: Cousins retrace grandfather’s 630-km wagon journey across Sask., Manitoba

Two cousins have been travelling by horse-drawn wagon through Saskatchewan to commemorate a 630-kilometre trip their grandfather took.

It’s hard to miss the duo along Highway 13, in their enclosed three-metre-long red wagon with plexiglass windows and a yellow bumper with a sign that reads “Geezers on Board.”

The cousins — Derwin Clarke and Joe Alexander — are from each of Saskatchewan’s neighbouring prairie provinces – Alberta and Manitoba.

Earlier this month, they hitched their horses to the wagon in Eastend, Sask., and set off for Virden, Man.

The wagon is equipped with an electric toilet and a fun bumper sign that reads, “Geezers on Board.” (Submitted by Pat Hume)

Clarke said his grandfather started his trip after a drought hit his homestead near Frontier, Sask., about a century ago. He put his wife and children on a trip to his hometown of Virden and he set out with the horses.

“We’re talking about our grandfather going across the province, and so we said, ‘why don’t we do that?’ So we planned over the winter and that’s why we’re doing it. I guess the same reason people climb mountains,” said Clarke in conversation with The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger.

While they’re replicating their granddad’s trip, he most likely didn’t have bucket seats that recline and an electric toilet, as the cousins do in their wagon.

They get up early each morning to try to beat the heat and stop often so the horses don’t get too hot.

Derwin Clarke (right) and Joe Alexander (left) chat with friends after their horses were hauled back to the fairgrounds in Ogema, Sask. (Submitted by Donna McMullan)

Alexander said both of them enjoy working with horses and it’s been the trip of a lifetime so far. 

“There isn’t one thing I don’t like about it,” said Alexander.

Both cousins said they have been humbled by the generosity of people in the land of the living skies.

People have offered their homes, food, or water for the seniors and the horses.

“One day we got muffins and we had cookies, and we’ve had drinks. One lady went and got Derwin new glasses because he lost his,” said Alexander.

“Everybody’s just been so good to us, like the people in Saskatchewan are just remarkably caring and sociable.”

Clarke said the two vowed to always stop to chat or take photos along the way if people asked.

Derwin Clarke and Joe Alexander hit the road in their horse-drawn wagon near Arcola, Sask. (Submitted by Rebecca Mayes)

He said six or seven strangers will sometimes camp with them, talking and visiting like they’ve known each other.

“It’s renewed my faith in people and generosity of people,” said Clarke.

He said he feels people have been itching for someone to talk to or for something to talk about, like their wagon, because of the pandemic.

Once they reach Virden, they have a trailer to take the horses home.

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