Poll

Singing cowboy crosses country in horse-drawn chuckwagon - with stops in Trail and Castlegar

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
July 22nd, 2015

Motorists in Trail must’ve been doubting their own eyes this morning, as many watched a man head through town driving an authentic chuckwagon (wooden wheels, on-board kitchen and all) pulled by four horses and towing a covered wagon behind with feed, cruising along the highway.

Pierre Cloutier, 41, left his small town of St. Barnabe Sud, Quebec, on Nov. 6 and has since driven his wagons roughly 3,000 kilometres, clear across Canada, over the course of eight-and-a-half months.

He’s not doing it to raise money or awareness, he’s not supporting a cause – so whyis he doing it?

Because he wanted to, of course.

“I had my first horse at 12, and I knew I wanted to be a traveller, and a cowboy – it was a kid’s dream,” he said, adding he built the wagons himself, starting work on the first one when he was just 15. “I was raised on a dairy farm in Quebec – when my brothers were out dancing, I was out working on my wagon.”

The dream faded, as childhood dreams are wont to do … then made a comeback decades later.

“I kind of hit a dead end in Quebec. I was a workaholic, and I was deeply in love with a woman.”

When that didn’t work out, Cloutier found himself spurred into action by a broken heart – and decided he wanted to move to B.C. He’s still not 100-per-cent sure of his specific destination, bar that he’s headed in the direction of the Okanagan.

“When I’m there (where I want to be), I’ll feel it, and I’ll stop,” he said, adding his November departure meant he was on the prairies during the winter months, thus avoiding treacherous ice on mountain highways – but now, he’s only driving from roughly 4 to 10 a.m., to avoid traffic and keep the horses out of the worst of the day’s punishingly hot sun. In the afternoons, he often finds himself speaking at churches, schools, retirement homes, etc. in the communities where he stops.

“I don’t know how to make speeches – I just talk,” he said, explaining that people seem to want to hear his story. “I follow three rules: 1. Don’t be scared to work really hard for what you believe; 2. You have to believe in it 100 per cent and; 3. You have to break the rules. To do something special, you can’t follow everyone else.

“I was lucky to have a soft winter and when I broke down or got sick, the right person was always there beside me,” he said. “I’m not a big god-believer, but I think it was more than just luck – I had a destiny to live that dream.”

What does his family think of all this? He said his 18-year-daughter is taking it in stride.

“She’s not surprised – she knows how extremist I am,” he laughed. “I think she’s happy for me.”

The most amazing part, so far, he said, has been the stunning kindness and generosity of people from one end of the country to the other.

“It was the biggest surprise,” he said. “I slept five nights in the wagon all winter – the rest of the time, always, I had open doors, everywhere. In eight months, I’ve never had to buy a hay bale or bag of feed for the horses, or go into a grocery store for food for me – that’s something special.”

He’s certainly generating a lot of interest in his travels, particularly on social media , which should help him with his long term goals.

“Everybody slows down for us – very, very few people pass at 100 km/hr,” he said, adding they’re often slowing to snap a quick photo or video, which he minds not at all. “The trip is just the beginning of the dream, it’s not my big dream. My dream is to start a country and western band and travel around, probably with the horses, because they’re already famous. When I’m on stage in front of 20,000 people – that’s the dream.”

Speaking of the horses, they are pure-bred Belgians. The lead team, a brother/sister duo named Bobby and Kelly, have been with Cloutier from the very beginning. He bought newcomers Jenny and Betty in Pincher Creek before tackling B.C.’s daunting mountain passes.

Tonight, he’ll be bunking in Oasis, just outside Trail, and will be heading through Castlegar tomorrow or Friday. You can check him out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pierre-Cloutier-Travers%C3%A9e-du-Canada-%C3%A0-cheval/1490276887904998?fref=ts

Happy Trails, Pierre, Bobby, Kelly, Betty and Jenny!

 

Categories: General

Comments

2°C Overcast Clouds

Other News Stories

Opinion