Vincent Gabriel Kirouac is travelling across the country aboard his beloved horse, Coeur de Lion (French for Heart of a Lion), while promoting the ideals and virtues associated with chivalry and being a knight.
Kirouac's journey brought him through southeast Saskatchewan in late June. He entered Saskatchewan from Manitoba along Highway 13, and passed through such communities as Redvers, Carlyle, Arcola and Stoughton.
He was easy to identify by motorists. He travels in a knight's attire, with armour, a helmet, belt and other garments associated with being a knight.
Kirouac wants to be a knight for God, and he was knighted by a Catholic bishop before the journey began.
Holiness, faith, courage, forgiveness, respect, humility, justice, devotion, honesty, goodness and prowess are chivalrous virtues that the Quebec resident has been trying to promote since he started his journey several months ago in St. Aubert, Quebec, which is east of Quebec City.
"People can have an example that it's still possible to be good and fair, no matter what, in society, even if we're in a rush all the time," he said in a phone interview with Lifestyles while he was outside of Assiniboia.
Coeur de Lion is a 10-year-old mare, and Kirouac is thankful that she has been so reliable.
"She has been totally amazing," said Kirouac. "She's still a horse, so when there are flies around, it bothers her, which bothers me at the same time. Sometimes she slows down. But it's like us. We have some good days, we have some bad days. You just have to deal with it."
People have been very supportive. Kirouac has stayed in a motel only once, and that's because he didn't have any other options. Throughout his journey, he has stayed with people who live along his route.
"They give me a good meal, they give me a warm bed and they give my mare everything she was in need of," said Kirouac. "That's been just great. In three months, never sleeping outside, always having somewhere to stay, it's just outstanding and stunning."
On many occasions, he has started the day not knowing where he would stay.
His journey is not a fundraising effort; he's not travelling across the country for a particular cause, other than to promote chivalry's ideals. Supporters have made donations to help Kirouac with expenses associated with his mare's health.
History partially paid a role in his decision to include Highway 13 in his travels.
"Long ago it was the Pony Express Trail," said Kirouac. "So from B.C., all the way across to the border of Ontario, people had their horse, and every 15 miles or 20 miles, they would have a village."
The highway was also part of the Red Coat Trial – the 1,300 kilometre route taken by the Northwest Mounted Police when they brought law enforcement to western Canada in the late 19th Century.
While he was in southeast Saskatchewan, Kirouac encountered the same Canadian hospitality that he has enjoyed so frequently in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.
"All the villages are so close, all the people are so kind, and it's not the same as travelling around Highway 1," he said.
Weather can be a challenge, he said. There have been days in which he has encountered rain, high winds and thunderstorms. Other days have been beautiful in the morning, but conditions have deteriorated as the day progressed.
On those days, he just wants to advance as far as he can.
According to his website, he has travelled anywhere from 20 to 60 kilometres per day, except for his days off, which happen about once a week so that Coeur de Lion can rest. He was expected to cross the Saskatchewan/Alberta border on July 9, nearly four weeks after he entered Saskatchewan.
He expects to arrive on B.C.'s west coast, and complete his journey, in about a month-and-a-half. Then he and Coeur-de-Lion will be shipped to Saskatchewan, so that the mare can retire in the Griffin area.
The decision to leave his beloved horse in Saskatchewan came after a lot of prayer.
"A family over there wants to have her so she can have a good life over there and have a good time being with some good friends, and have some good food," said Kirouac.
Afterwards, Kirouac will fly from Regina back to Quebec, and end a journey that will span thousands of kilometres and six provinces.
For more on Kirouac and Coeur de Lion, their cross-country travels and Kirouac's plans for the future, please visit http://www.chevalierautourdumonde.com.