11 December, 2023

Yannick’s Trans Canada Trail: From Dream to Reality

Yannick Proulx

What would you do if you were a millionaire? I read this question in a book called Le petit guide de l’Ikigai (The Little Guide to Ikigai). I answered: I’d travel across Canada on foot. Nothing less. A few years later, while cleaning up, I came across the notebook in which I’d responded to the questions in the book. I opened it and found the question that would change my life. As I thought about it, I said to myself, I don’t have $1 million in the bank, but I do have the freedom to choose what I want to do with my life. And that’s when I decided that April 15, 2023, would be the starting date for living this dream.

The magic route

On April 15, 2023, I kick off my journey with a walk at Cape Spear on the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland and Labrador. I have an infinite view of the Atlantic Ocean; birds are fighting against a wind so strong that I can hardly balance myself. I make my way to St. John’s, 24 kilometres away. The next day, I begin the 888-kilometre Newfoundland T’Railway Trail. It will take me 28 days to complete this rocky route.

I could call the Trans Canada Trail “the magic route”. So far, it’s brought me a lot of surprises and a wealth of experiences: meeting people, discovering flora and fauna, and the whole aspect of my spiritual and personal evolution.

The kindness of people

Yannick and a family member

Every morning, when I woke up, I was aware of the present moment. I had no idea where I’d arrive that evening. And every evening, I was in awe of the scenery and the welcome I received from people along the way. In the Maritimes, what impressed me most was the openness of the people in the four provinces. When I saw a place where I felt safe, I didn’t hesitate to knock on someone’s door and ask if I could pitch my tent there. Most people offered me a warm, cozy bed in their home.

On May 6, I’m in a small village in Gallants. I had set up my tent near a river, and I’d asked a neighbour if I could leave my food bag at his place, safe from bugs and critters. The next morning at dawn, I go to retrieve my bag. After he offers me a hearty breakfast and we dine together, I’m ready to set off for the day.

In the evening, I see a flat area, perfect for a good night’s sleep. The 35 kilometres I’d just completed had exhausted me. I knock on the door, and a woman with curly white hair invites me in and offers me a cup of tea. We introduce ourselves, and I meet Sister Betty. We chat about everything and anything, and she offers to let me stay in one of the guest rooms. The next day, I leave with a full heart, ready for the rest of my adventure.

A host of challenges … and renewed hope

Yannick standing on a bridge in Ottawa. His hand raised to the camera.

Despite the beauty of the scenery and the human kindness I experience, I face a whole swath of challenges – discouragement and second-guessing myself, among others. After having hiked for several grey days, my mind also begins to fill with a fog that leads me to the fateful decision to give up. In Woodstock, New Brunswick, I decide to head to the Charlevoix region of Quebec to wait out the bad weather. Just then, I receive a call from my former brother-in-law, a truck driver. He casually mentions that he’ll be in Woodstock in 45 minutes. The next day, he drives me home so I can get some rest. Two days later, I return to a monastery in the Charlevoix region to regain my strength. Five days later, I continue my journey. By the time I reach Baie-St-Paul, nothing is going right. I’m out of breath, tired and discouraged by the bad weather. I give up. I return home. But after two weeks, I feel a sense of incompleteness. My heart and soul vibrate at the thought of starting again. So, on July 4, I pick up where I left off. Thirty-six days later, I arrive in Gatineau with renewed hope of making it to Victoria, British Columbia.


Follow my adventures on Facebook (Une rando avec Yannick) and Instagram (@unerandoavecyannick).