The Amazing Foot Race of 1921: Halifax to Vancouver in 134 Days
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by Shirley Jean Roll Tucker
Heritage House, Victoria, 2011
224 pp., illus., $19.95 paperback
In 1921, five hikers embarked upon a gruelling race from Halifax to Vancouver, desperately seeking the glory that would be theirs if they were the first to complete the nearly six-thousand-kilometre trek. Hiker Charles Burkman was the first to begin the journey, but it was not long before he was pursued by father-son duo Jack and Clifford Behan and underdogs Frank and Jenny Dill.
Canadians eagerly followed the hikers’ journeys in newspapers and cheered them along the route. The sporting event was a welcome distraction from the postwar period.
Shirley Jean Roll Tucker provides a lively and informative account of this largely forgotten event. Rich in photos, excerpts from Halifax Herald articles, and quotes from the hikers themselves, The Amazing Foot Race of 1921 is accessible and compelling for academics and general readers alike.
The book not only provides a detailed account of the race but also offers some social history. It is a true tale of adventure, chronicling the efforts of five ordinary Canadians who became national heroes during a time of change and uncertainty.
This review appeared in the August-September 2012 issue of Canada's History magazine.
— Emily Cuggy (Read bio)
Emily Cuggy is a student and recently completed an internship with Canada's History Society.