Ontario couple to take 3-year walk across Canada, from coast to coast to coast

As city planners will tell you, any good place to live is a good place to walk, with lots to see and do within walking distance. For Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton, from Simcoe, Ont., all of Canada from coast to coast to coast, is walking distance.

'We have some savings but our current budget is about $20 a day'

Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton, from Simcoe, Ont., take their first steps, this Spring, in a three-year trek that will take them all over Canada from coast to coast to coast. (Sonya Richmond)
Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton, from Simcoe, Ont., are planning to take a trek, starting this Spring, across all of Canada from coast to coast to coast. 8:20

As city planners will tell you, any good place to live is a good place to walk, with lots to see and do within walking distance. For Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton, from Simcoe, Ont., all of Canada, from coast to coast to coast, is walking distance. 

In the Spring they'll take their first step on a three-year trek across this entire country, from east to west and north to south.

Richmond spoke with the CBC's Conrad Collaco about the long walk she and her partner are about to take. 

You can read an abridged and edited version of the interview or listen to the full audio interview by hitting the play button above. 

Sonya Richmond, planning to walk across Canada

Sonya Richmond and her partner Sean Morton plan a cross country trek to raise money and awareness of the importance of protecting wild birds and their habitats. (Sonya Richmond )

What made you want to take a walk across Canada?

We wanted to have an adventure and we wanted to share a positive message. There's so much beauty and diversity and so many amazing places that are part of Canada. We really wanted to share that with people. We're also going to be collaborating with Bird Studies Canada. We'll be raising awareness of the importance of protecting wild birds and their habitats. By doing that we are hoping to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to get outside and connect with nature. 

Is there any one place that has you particularly excited to visit?  

Both of us are really excited to see Canada's north. I've never been to the Northwest Territories and seeing the Arctic circle is something we're both really looking forward to.   

How do you even plan something like that?

We take it in small steps. We started by looking at a map of the trail and figuring out which part we are going to walk and which part we will paddle. Then we made the decision to start in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and walk west to Victoria, B.C. then paddle up north in our third year. Once we did that we did some math to try to figure out how long it would take to do each section. Since then we've been reading guide books and following the posts of the other people who have been doing this. That's pretty much where we started. 

There's so much beauty and diversity and so many amazing places that are part of Canada. We really wanted to share that with people.- Sonya Richmond

Who has done this before and what did you learn from them? 

The big news right now is Dana Meise. He's set to become the first person to ever complete the entire trail from coast to coast to coast. He's up in Tuktoyaktuk right now and is set, I think, to finish tomorrow. Sarah Jackson was the first lady to solo hike the east-west portion of it. We've been looking at her posts. 
The Great Trail begins in the east in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and the west in Victoria, British Columbia and in the north in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. (thegreattrail.ca)

I guess what has come out most to us is that there are a lot of great places to see and the people they have met are fantastic. We're really looking forward to it. They have all faced challenges out there but they have all been able to overcome them.      

How have you had to change your lives to prepare for this journey?

We are in the process of getting ready to sell our house. I will be leaving my job in the Spring. We'll be leaving behind our friends and families and our pets. We're really going all out. 

We've been saving up. We have some savings but our current budget is about $20 a day. We're looking for sponsorship right now. We probably will be collecting donations at some point.  

What's been the most difficult thing about planning this?

I guess it's trying to predict our itinerary. The weather is one thing we can't predict and it's going to have a huge influence on us. The other thing that has been difficult is trying to figure out how long it will take us. We do have some experience hiking long trails. We know the pace we can do on those trails. We're hoping to connect with as many people as we can. That's going to affect where we choose to stop and what we choose to look at. That's a big unknown for us.  

How have you physically prepared for this?

We've done some longer hikes before. This summer we walked the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland which is part of the Great Trail and we've been walking on the Bruce Trail. And we're trying to walk at least five kilometres every day after work. As we get closer to leaving we'll extend the length of our daily hikes. And we'll start carrying more weight with us.  

How are you preparing for Winter weather during your walk?

We will bundle up. We have some good winter gear and we hope to get a little bit more from sponsors. One thing working in our favour is we hope to get back in to Southern Ontario by next winter. We think we'll be back in the Brantford area by December. Then in our second year, hopefully we'll be west of the Rockies by the time the really cold weather hits. If we can keep that pace, hopefully we can avoid the worst of the winter. If we have a bad winter that is really cold, we may get off the trail and do some things to try to raise money for birds or raise awareness for birds.   
(Sonya Richmond)