Montreal globetrotter finishes epic walk
After 11 years, 75,500 kilometres and 54 pairs of shoes, Jean Béliveau is finally home.
The 56-year-old completed his epic walk around the world Sunday morning when he crossed the Lachapelle bridge into Montreal.
Wrapping his wife Luce in his arms, Béliveau started the final leg of his trek flanked by supporters and a swarm of media.
"The walk is finished," he said. "The adventure will be another decade with my family to promote the cause of peace for children."
He embarked on his globetrotting tour in 2000, after closing his business and suffering what he said was a mid-life crisis of sorts.
"It was a crucial moment for me. I [thought] I should do something that is crazy, different than what we have in our society," he said.
He mapped out a route and expected the trek would take him 10 years.
At first he ran, making it all the way to Atlanta, Ga., before his pace slowed. For the majority of his journey, he was alone with only a three-wheeled trailer containing basic supplies.
The journey took him across six continents and through more than 60 countries. He met dignitaries, stayed in homes of people he met along the way and tried to raise awareness for his cause — peace and non-violence for children around the world.
"I left with a very humble objective. I didn't know about peace — at first I just said to myself just learn slowly and observe," he said.
At times, just finding food and shelter was a struggle. There were days when he had little to eat and said he was lucky to come across someone who could direct him or help out.
He also tried to assimilate into the culture he'd walked into. His biggest lesson, he said, was that there is a lot to learn from other countries and people.
When Béliveau arrived back in Quebec, it was the first time he'd been home since embarking on his journey. He met his second granddaughter, now five years old, for the first time.
As for what comes next, Béliveau said he's ready for a new kind of adventure. The thing he's looking forward to most is having a quiet coffee with his wife in the morning.
"It will be another sort of life," he said. "Public speaking, writing the books and being involved for peace."