Monday, June 8, 2015

Pierre Cloutier visits Pincher Creek during his cross-Canada horse and wagon journey

Photos by Jenny Vandersteen, C. Davis, T. Lucas
Toni Lucas

Pierre Cloutier is currently traveling across Canada with his dog Eska and four Belgian horses (Buddy, Kelly, Jenny and Betty) who are pulling a tandem covered wagon rig. Cloutier left Montreal on November 6 for a cross-Canada trip to the general destination of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. He has been in the Pincher Creek area for three days, receiving hospitality from locals on his trek, and is currently resting his team at the McClelland ranch near Beaver Mines before heading off again toward the Crowsnest Pass. 

Cloutier arrived in Cardston on May 27. While there he had some wheel repairs done at the Remington Carriage Museum restoration shop. After that he moved on to  Mountainview, then Hillspring, and then took Highway 505 to Highway 6, and on to Pincher Creek. "I spent three days there. I arrived the Friday (June 5)," said Cloutier. 

On Main Street Pincher Creek
Jenny Vandersteen photo
On Saturday he took the time to shoe Bobby and Betty. The front team of Bobby and Kelly has gone through three sets of shoes on this trip, so far, that he has tended to as their farrier. His timing in Pincher Creek coincided with the Annual Chuckwagon Cook out at the Agricultural Grounds on Saturday, where he enjoyed meeting a lot of people. "I went to supper with my dog and actually I shook hands with the Mayor, he was very kind to me, and he gave me a present. He told me that Pincher Creek was one of the oldest towns in Alberta."

Pierre Cloutier in Pincher Creek
Jenny Vandersteen photo
On Sunday he prepped his wagon for continuing his journey. Cloutier has been traveling at approximately 25 km / day, when he is on the move, depending on stops, delays, weather, and lodging. The hilly and mountainous region he is entering may change his best guesses. "I plan to cross the Crowsnest Pass on Friday, maybe."

Pierre Cloutier and Ryder Oczkowski
Jenny Vandersteen photo
Leena Vandersteen with a member of the team
Jenny Vandersteen photo
Why he chose to cross the country in a wagon is very simple. "I decide to realize my dreams, I dreamed of that when I was a kid." Cloutier is fluently bilingual, and occupationally he has driven trucks, been an auctioneer, and a farrier. He has been around horses since he was 12.  After a broken relationship he auctioned off much of his worldly goods except what could fit into the wagons and started his trip across Canada. Once he finds an area he likes in British Columbia, he plans to settle there. "I've never been to BC, so it could be anywhere. I'm looking for a nice area for the horses, too." He said he has shown a lot of care for his animals on the trip, and wants to find a place they can finish off a nice life. "I know horses can feel glory too, and they I think they will deserve that."

Pausing after a tough climb on the way to Beaver Mines
C. Davis photo
Cloutier has owned Bobby and Kelly for 10 years, and he got Jenny and Betty from Charlie Barr of Pincher Creek a couple of weeks ago to deal with the more difficult terrain. "I just doubled my power."

Pierre Cloutier with McClelland family members Sarah, Jessica, Parker, and Bradin
C. Davis photo

Cloutier said he  is enjoying his journey and the unconventional mode of travel. "I learned that there are still good people around the world. People helped me so much of the road that I decided they deserve to know who I am. that's why I have a very open mind to share my story." 

At the McClelland's near Beaver Mines
T. Lucas photo
Many people who are curious about his travels have talked with him in person and worldwide via his Facebook and Twitter accounts. They offer him well-wishes, goods, and lodging for himself and his animals. He said he has been touched by all the concern and positivity he has encountered. "I've got all the world who protect me. People treat me as a king, everywhere, everywhere. I've been treated like I never been able to dream so nice life." I traveled with him for a mile or so on Highway 507, and experienced that kindness of strangers firsthand when Steve Soroka, who was traveling from Castle Mountain, stopped to share some pastries with Cloutier and wish him well on his journey.

Cloutier said that it takes 3 things to be successful:
  1. Don't be afraid to work very hard
  2. Believe in what you're doing
  3. Break the rules (Don't follow the advice of the nay-sayers)
On the easy side of the big hill to Beaver Mines
C. Davis photo
Regarding his advice of  'Break the Rules'  he said many people warned him of the dangers of this adventure, and advised against it. Some told him 'You're going to die, and you're going to kill your horse'. He had provisions and plans in place, and has been flexible with what reality has presented to him. He has traveled in -30° weather, and has so far made it through to the edge of the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Every week he has been in touch with a veterinarian to help advise him about his animals. "My biggest risk is for my horses, not for me. I was not scared for me." 

"I think so many people love this story because so many have a dream."

Once he gets settled he plans to start a country music band. "I have dreamed of that for a long time."

^ A gallery of photos by Jenny Vandersteen.  For more of her work, please visit or Mill Canyon Photography on Facebook.

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