On Thursday, May 26, Jean spends his first night in Manitoba! Less than 5 months and he will finally arrive home on October 16! I even started to count in days: May 26 is day number 143 before Montreal. Surprisingly, crossing the days one by one on the calendar does seem to make time go faster! Well, I suppose I am clinging to anything that will make my favourite walker seem to be home!
Less than a month ago I was telling you that the weather was getting warmer and that Jean had started to dress a bit lighter... Well, just a couple of days later, he had to put his long underwear back on... freezing rain is even worst than snow...
Apart form the noise from the traffic, walking Southern Saskatchewan is pretty quiet. Endless flat prairies and small villages but people are warm and welcoming. Both his feet are a complete mess but impossible to quit now!
Not too much in sightseeing except the grain elevators, the water slowly receding from the wheat fields awaiting to be ploughed and sown. Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Regina are the most important cities along his route.
On June 9, in late afternoon, Jean walks into the City of Winnipeg, sporting a huge grin on his face. He has cause to be happy because he has now walked about half the distance to Montreal and home. Would you believe I am smiling too?
Mercedes Mulaire and some friends are escorting him into the city. Mercedes is in charge of organizing Jean's stay in Winnipeg and she is doing a great job of it. She emailed us a schedule detailing the events, interviews and activities Jean will be attending to during the 5 days he will be in the Manitoban Capital plus the places where he will be accommodated during the nights.
Winnipeg is renown for its hospitality so for sure Jean will have great fun during his stay. Furthermore, as the weather is finally settling into summer and the roads are almost intolerably flat from now on, Jean has even more reasons to rejoice.
Good-bye Manitoba, Hello Ontario!
From June 10 to 14, Jean was quite busy in Winnipeg meeting students in different schools, doing interviews with the media and other get-together with persons of various associations. He left the friendly city on the morning of the 15 but walked only about one hundred kilometres when he was driven back on the 18 to participate in the "Peace Alliance 1st Annual Winnipeg International Peace Festival and 30th Annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace".
It was a wonderful day with fun for everyone, food, music, entertainment etc. for kids and adults. Of course there was also the traditional "Walk for Peace" and Jean sure was in his element with that!
He intended to go right back to his last steps and continue on his walk when a rendezvous he had dearly wished was confirmed. So, he stayed in the city till Monday the 20 when he was honoured to meet with Mr. Lloyd Axworthy, well known Canadian politician, statesman, philanthropist and peace advocate. Of course, the subject of this meeting was peace.
Jean crossed from Manitoba to Ontario on June 22nd, day #116 before his arrival in Montréal on October 16! Members of CDPI (Canadian Department for Peace Initiative) are already working very hard in organizing celebrations and events for Jean's passage in the Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa areas. When things are finalized, we will post the schedules in the LATEST NEWS so you will all be able to attend and participate in the festivities.
On July 8, the 100th day before Montreal, Jean arrives in Thunder Bay in late evening. He has not shaved or showered for a few days but still he is welcomed with kindness by the staff of the Victoria Inn on Arthur Street.
Aside from Kenora and Dryden, the 600 kilometres from the Ontario border till the first big city, Thunder Bay, are not much populated by human beings. This is wilderness doted with a multitude of lakes scattered like jewels upon a green canopy and inhabited with deer flies, bears, moose and all kinds of small animals. But just as the many Canadian people have warmly welcomed him all along his route, the forest dwellers are happy to see him too provided he takes some precautions to ensure his safety and that of his food supplies.
He was warned no to keep his food beside him in his tent during the nights unless he wanted to host a mama-bear and her cubs... So he was stringing a bag filled with perishables to a tree limb and could then sleep in peace. Of course the tree limb was too small for a bear to get on but not for the squirrels! He woke up the next morning to see his supplies of nuts and peanuts sorely depleted and the fat squirrels very happy about their "winter cache"!
Having walked long stretches in trying to reach civilization, regular meals and warm showers as soon as possible, Jean is a bit tired when he gets to Thunder Bay. But he is very well looked after and his energy level should get back to normal after a couple of days when he will get back to the road.
Sault Ste. Marie
The last 3 weeks have been somewhat trying on the walker and also on myself. We thought that after Thunder Bay the isolation and the lonely roads would be over but we were wrong! As a matter of fact, it was even worse that before! Close to 700 km with a few scattered villages and about as many large and forested Provincial Parks offering "Camping Areas".
The main inconvenience was that his cell phone was not working... no signal... so, no communication. He called me once in a while from a landline in a phone booth to let me know about where he was. This reminded me of his hard time in the Australian Outback, about a year and a half ago when there was hardly any communication but a lot of worries.
So finally, on the evening of August 2, the 75th day before home, Jean arrives in Sault Ste. Marie where he is eagerly expected at Algoma's Water Tower Inn and where he is given a rousing welcome by J. J. Hilsinger, the owner of the hotel accompanied by his hotel staff. Jean plans to stay in Sault Ste. Marie for a few days to rest a bit, as he is tired and skinny from long walking days. He will also take advantage of this respite to get up to date on his emails and look over the events and activities that are being organized for his passage in the Toronto and Ottawa areas.
On July 31, Jean celebrated his 4,000th day on the road! Renée and Henry, good friends whom he met on the road, helped him with the celebration!
Would you believe that there are just a little more than 2 months and only around 1,360 km before his arrival in Montréal? This is a really small portion of the 75,000 km projected... well... less than 2% actually!
I wonder where, how and with whom Jean will celebrate his 56th birthday and the 11th anniversary of the wwwalk on August 18... One thing I am sure of is that it certainly will be closer than where he celebrated the last similar anniversary... that was in Yarram, down under in Australia!
Till next time...