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This article was published 21/2/2015 (2307 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NEAR SOURIS -- Pierre Cloutier uprooted his life east of Montreal to make his way to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia -- the same way Canadian pioneers moved west in search of wealth.
After his longtime girlfriend broke up with him, he sold all of his farm equipment, quit his gruelling job as a truck driver and packed all of his worldly belongings into a horse-drawn carriage pointed westward.
"People left from the east to find gold," he said Thursday on the side of Highway 2 near Souris, while travelling through western Manitoba as his journey continued.
"So, I'm going to find my gold, a new world for me, my dream out there."
'I'm going to find my gold, a new world for me, my dream out there'‐ Pierre Cloutier, who is travelling to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley in a covered wagon
When he got his first horse at the age of 12, Cloutier, the son of a Quebec dairy farmer, always dreamed of going on a long cross-country trip.
His dream is coming true.
The estimated eight-month odyssey started in November, and has now placed him in the centre of Manitoba's unrelenting cold.
It was -31 C Thursday morning, but because there was no headwind, he and his steeds soldiered on, albeit slowly, along Highway 2 toward Souris, making sure the cold air didn't burn the horses' lungs.
"I have to take care," Cloutier said in a thick French-Canadian accent. "I have to follow the weather... I take my time."
The cold has slowed his journey considerably. He spent all of last weekend in Wawanesa, unable to continue because of the cold.
The wagon itself is similar to those used during the early days of western settlement. The large wheels have no bearings, so every four days, he has to remove them to put grease on the shafts.
In the front, two 900-kilogram purebred Belgian horses are powering this trip, and his dog, Eska, keeps him company inside the fully enclosed cart, which has a plexiglass windshield to protect him from the elements.
"I wanted to show people that you can always make your trip come true," Cloutier said, a smile permanently fixed on his face.
Thinking at the outset he'd rough it on his own, he quickly found himself getting help in nearly every place he has gone through.
"I realized that I needed a lot of help and that's happening," he said. As he said that, Ernest Hofer, a member of the Green Acres Hutterite Colony, had pulled over to the side of the highway to check the tread on Cloutier's carriage.
"That's my biggest surprise, people help, people open their door -- I've never been refused anywhere," Cloutier said.
"I was surprised that people helped me... I know it worked like that 200 years ago when you (could have) knocked on a door (and asked) for a piece of bread... now, in 2015, it's exactly the same way," he said.
"That's touching my heart very much, for the first couple of weeks, I cried a couple of times."
Once he's in B.C., Cloutier, who's also a horseshoer and auctioneer, has plans of fulfilling his second dream of starting a country music band after he finds himself a ranch.
For more information and to track where Cloutier is on his trip, visit his Facebook page "Pierre Cloutier, Traversée du Canada cheval."