Jean Beliveau - The Ultimate Traveler

Trip Start Apr 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, June 2, 2007

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Jean Béliveau - The Ultimate Traveler

Bring up the name of Jean Béliveau here in Canada and the response is usually one of instant recognition.

Everyone, of a certain age, remembers the great Jean Béliveau - the famous No. 4 of "les Canadiens" - or the Montreal Canadians of the National Hockey League.

He was a true hockey legend whose career paralleled that of the great Gordie Howe. He was known as much for his hockey prowess in leading the Canadians to many Stanley Cups as well as for the fact that he was a true gentleman whose reputation still follows him today.

His stature in Canadian lore was further buttressed when in 1994 he was offered the post of Governor-General by the Prime Minister and turned it down.

For the benefit of anyone reading this outside of this country; Canada is a monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is also the Queen of Canada and the Governor-General is the queen's representative in Canada and as such is designated as the "Head of State".
The Federal Parliament is therefore made up of three parts - the House of Commons (elected), the Senate (appointed) and the Governor-General (appointed). Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean is the current Governor-General of Canada.

Federal legislation must receive the approval of all three parts of Parliament in order to officially become a federal statute.

In fact, the post of Governor-General is largely ceremonial with no real powers of government.  The position however, does provide quite the venue for a regal life style at Rideau Hall. This is the Governor-General's official residence which is the closest thing that Ottawa has to a traditional royal palace and grounds.

It is located on Sussex Drive, just across the street from the Prime Minister's residence.

We have a special attachment to the scenic grounds since we used to live only two blocks away.
Jean Béliveau, whose hockey career spanned the years from 1950-1971, had his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup as a player for the Montreal Canadians an incredible ten times - not to mention the seven more times as an executive for the team after his retirement.
Even the great Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, who also played for the Canadians from 1942 - 1960, only (how can I use the word "only"?) had his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup eight times.
For a possible record breaker, our attention would focus on the great Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings/Hartford Whalers, whose moniker of "Mr. Hockey" speaks for itself. However, Howe had his name inscribed only four times on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
So there it is - the name of Jean Béliveau is unparalleled when it comes to the Stanley Cup of professional hockey.
Having said that, my title:
Jean Béliveau - The Ultimate Traveler
does not refer to this "Jean Béliveau" - the Hockey Hero
The human spirit takes inspiration from the beauty that surrounds us.
Therefore a lot of us view traveling as a vehicle to bring us closer to perceived beauty. One never knows what is around the next corner to capture our attention and fascination.
In fact, you do not have to go far to find "Paradise". There are various places which are endowed with great natural beauty and which could fall into the category of being "Paradise". 
Personally, my mind drifts towards Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific when I think in these terms, but it is a very individual thing and it could exist in one's back yard or within one's own family.
In the "yin and yang" of life, we also know that "Hell" can also be found on this beautiful Earth. One only has to think of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Darfur - just to name a few to make the point.
"Hell" can also be found close to home in the form of spousal, drug and/or alcohol abuse, grinding poverty, violence to children etc.
So what does all this have to do with Jean Béliveau? (not the hockey player)
Well Jean Béliveau - or as I call him, The Ultimate Traveler - undertook a 12 year project in the year 2000 .
His project would be to walk around the world - one step at a time - in order to get a first hand close-up look at what this beautiful earth has to offer.  At the same time, he is trying to alleviate one of the "hells" that I spoke of earlier - violence to children.

To quote from his website:
    On August 18th, 2000, at 9:00 am, Jean Béliveau left Montreal, Canada. His goal is to walk around the planet to promote "Peace and non-violence to the profit of the children of the world". He is traveling alone with a three wheeled stroller to carry a bit of food, his clothing, a First Aid kit, a small tent and a sleeping bag. Jean plans to walk across all the continents, from North America to South America, then across to South Africa, up to Europe, then the Middle East, South and Eastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand and finally back to Canada.
This journey will take 12 years to complete which is in accordance with the United Nations proclamation: 2001-2010 - International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World
I just happened to hear a little bit about his story on Radio Canada which is the French Language Radio network here in Canada.
I was fortunate enough to just get his website:
How clever!
The "wwwalk" stands for "world wide walk".
I was very much touched and inspired by what I discovered on his website. The site is very well laid out and it describes in detail and with photos the trek which Jean has undertaken.  It is a job well done by his wife back home in Montreal who is the webmaster.
He is presently in Turkey and has just completed his 7th rendezvous with his wife since leaving home.
If you like seeing the beauty of this earth and being educated about far away places I would highly recommend having a look at this website.
If you have, for instance, gone bicycle touring by yourself in far away places as I have, then you know the thrill of new discovery. You may also know the gnawing feeling of concern in the back of your mind brought about by not knowing: the local language; where are you going to sleep that evening; if you are going to get there before dark; whether you will arrive safely; if there is still a place open to get a bite to eat; how you will deal with the inclement weather; etc.
Sometimes I would chuckle to myself and wonder, why am I putting myself into such a tenuous situation when other people are traveling in the comfort of organized tours.  I guess the answer lies in the fact that I have a sense of adventure.  That is not to deny that at the same time there is a certain fear factor in facing the unknown, which must be overcome.
Obviously over the years, Jean Béliveau has mastered the art of traveling and put his fears aside and has focused on the positive - the beauty this earth has to offer in its diversity of scenery, people and culture.
What can I say? I was moved by this man's efforts and the beautiful way that his website chronicled his trek.
I would encourage you to have a close look at what he has already accomplished and the long route he has yet to go.
I don't have to say a whole lot more about his adventure because it is laid out in beautiful detail on his website.
You too may get some inspiration from this extraordinary man. 

February 19, 2011

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