Once a businessman focused on the almighty dollar, Boyd Lalonde has decided to turn his back on his old life and walk across Canada in the hope of finding a happier existence.
The 49-year-old Sechelt man was the owner of Sunshine Coast Granite, but a difficult break up, a deep depression and a stint of hard drug use brought Lalonde to the breaking point.
After six months in a Sunshine Coast recovery program Lalonde got clean and tried to pick up the pieces of his business, but overdue bills and collection notices were too much to keep it afloat.
"Things had backed up a lot and I felt like I couldn't deal with it," Lalonde said, noting he was still quite depressed over the break up with his partner a few years earlier. "So I decided I needed to fix myself."
While some may chose to get involved in self-help classes to start that process Lalonde decided to literally walk away from his old life.
He feels that by walking 16,000 km from the Pacific Ocean in Lund to the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia and back again he will be able free himself from his past and learn to love himself again.
"I used to be this happy go lucky, very kind, loving person and now I just don't know who I am any more. I want to find out who that is," he said.
He sold what few assets he had left, a vehicle and some high-end tools, and used the cash to pay for the hiking equipment he needs for the extensive journey.
He also purchased a lightweight laptop to chronicle his trek via a blog he's set up at canforrest.blogspot.ca.
While he's equipped for the trip with clothes, camping gear and a week's worth of rations Lalonde is making the trek without any money, relying on the kindness of strangers.
"This is also a journey for me to be able to put my trust back in people and find the love that's out there versus the mean and evilness that I've felt," Lalonde said.
He left Lund on Feb. 18 with a sign attached to his back that states his goal and asks for donations of food and money. He expects it will take him three to four years to complete the walk.
Coast Reporter caught up with Lalonde in Sechelt on March 1, where he was staying with an old friend for a couple of days to rest and clean up for the next leg of his journey.
"So far I've had about 50 people stop to help me and every time someone pulls over with an orange or a bag of nuts or some soup, or they invite me in to get out of the rain or they give me a little money for food, it's a blessing and it makes me feel really good," Lalonde said. "I can already feeling myself starting to change."
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