Grounded By Winter

So … it has now been a month since my last post.  We’ve been stalled by winter weather, and now Helen is in Portugal for the month.  In other words, we haven’t made any forward progress in our journey.

The problem is that with this extra time on my hands, I’ve been reading articles written by others also on a journey to cover the Trans-Canada.  The result has been that my old concerns have resurrected about the amount of road that makes up the *trail*.

A lot has been written criticizing the marking, maintenance, and safety of the trail.  Stories include scary encounters with heavy and fast moving traffic.  In one article, a former professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta wrote about his wife being killed when struck by a vehicle while they were cycling the trail in Eastern Canada. You can read his article here.

These stories have made me both sad and angry.

I’ve found myself again questioning our decision to undertake this journey.  However, I am then reminded that this is all about seeing Canada close-up-and-personal, and there was nothing that says we had to walk or cycle the road sections.

Giant astrolabe

So to shake myself out of this dark mood, I thought I would use this time to reflect on some of my favourite sights so far.  Without a doubt, that brought me back to Penetanguishene, which I have talked about in previous posts.  This town of just 9,000 is one of the best examples of why we want to explore the TransCanada.

The name Penetanguishene is an Algonquin name meaning “place of the white rolling sands”, and it is one of the oldest settlements in Canada west of Quebec City.

Penetanguishene (at the red dot) is located about 160 km north of Toronto, and 925 km west of Quebec City – considerably further if you’re travelling by canoe following the Great Lakes shoreline.

Every Canadian student learns about Samuel de Champlain – a French explorer and cartographer, commonly referred to as the Father of New France.  He is credited for much of the exploration and mapping of the Atlantic coastline, St Lawrence River, and the Great Lakes in the early 1600s.

Champlain arrived in this area in 1615, and 400 years later in 2015, a park and Heritage Trail were built along the Penetanguishene shoreline to commemorate that event.  The TransCanada follows this trail which is lined with statues, historical plaques, and other monuments.

Statue commemorating the first meeting of Champlain (on the right) with Wendat Chief Aenons.  (… and if you can, ignore the photobombing seagull).

If you’re looking for a town that resembles Old Quebec, you won’t find it here, but you will find a community rich in history.  This is a sampling of the sights in the Rotary Champlain Wendat Park.

Click on any photo  to view the gallery.

Thank you for following our journey.


As an aside to this story, my research uncovered an interesting piece of information related to Samuel de Champlain.  The image that’s always been associated with him is actually a depiction based on a portrait of another man – Michel Particelli d’Emery.

Image from

No authentic portrait of Champlain is known to exist.



  1. Your challenge, your rules! I follow a couple of bloggers who are attempting to walk the coast of Britain and they have similar doubts – should they keep to the route closest to the sea, or find safer routes inland when appropriate? Generally, they both take a pragmatic line. Love the sculptures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness “Penetanguishene ” is a bit of a mouthful, but lovely sculptures there. I see no problem in driving in a car along the roads on the ‘trail’ and walking or cycling in the bits that are off-road. This is your journey and you can do as you please.


    • It is a bit of a mouthful, but thankfully these aboriginal names are normally pronounced as they are written. They just have to be decomposed into their individual syllables.

      I think you were the first one many months ago who told me we could make whatever rules suited us on this journey. It was one of those “aha” moments for me. It doesn’t stop me however from wondering once in a while if the entire effort is stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t believe the idea is stupid at all, but maybe you need to look at the reasons why you want to do it. To prove you can? Because it’s there? To complete the entire route regardless of the pleasure or not it gives you? Why? The route is in itself just a means to explore. So explore. Ignore the route if it goes through places that are boring, tedious, unsatisfactory. Head off piste, move on to the next bit, whatever you (and Helen) decide to do. Stop and ask yourselves WHY are you doing this. I think you know the answer. Perhaps the enjoyment will come from asking a different question. 😀


  3. Penatang is just around the corner – thanks for the push, must go! Picking and choosing parts of the Trans Canada could also be a great way to take it on – not chronologically but just by whatever looks interesting…so do you think that this whole myth about a completed trail was just propaganda for Canada’s 150th?


    • I was really smitten by this small town – I hope you will like it too. You will likely have to wait until spring though. I went there a couple of winters ago and couldn’t get access to the park because of the snow.

      We are definitely taking a ‘shotgun’ approach to the trail now. It didn’t take us long on this journey to realize that the reality did not match the hype.
      It’s really quite sad that there isn’t some kind of governing body to establish standards


  4. Wonderful photos, Joanne. I wouldn’t feel bad at all about picking and choosing the parts you want to see or skip, whatever your reasons are. You are attempting something amazing, and every little piece you complete is more than most people ever will. I’m happy living vicariously through your hard work.


  5. I cannot bring myself to read that article about the terrible misfortune. Sad and angry is right. But people should know about so that things change.

    I love it when Deborah said that you were a trailblazer. Yeah! Trailblazing Joanne! The great nation of yours counts on you! 🙂 Even though… at this time Portugal sounds much more alluring.


    • Sigh – the snow continues to fall for a 2nd day. Portugal does sound very appealing 😕

      I don’t feel like a trailblazer. There are many before us who are undertaking this adventure as a 2-year end-to-end journey, unlike us as we pick our way along on a random schedule.
      When I get discouraged, I have to keep reminding myself to take what works and discard the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the photo bombing Seagull. Perhaps I can perk up your spirits with my perspective as we plan to depart on our third crossing… if we let much of what has been written dissuade us, we’d never have lifted the dock-lines and I’d likely still be anchored to my desk. Yes, the wife died in the trail, but everybody dies. Better to die doing what you love I say (although I hope I’ve got along time on this earth), You’ve got this! Go for it.


    • Lisa, you make an excellent point. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But then, that doesn’t feel like much of a challenge, does it?

      I look at what you’re doing and it is so far outside my comfort level, I can’t wrap my head around it at all. But this is a challenge that works for you.
      I have to keep reminding myself to simply take the experiences of others as a learning point, and move on.

      Thanks for the insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Joanne–you do not strike me as the type of person who is going to let anyone else’s stories stop you. You are on a little break to fuel up and go forward. I look forward to seeing the sights along with way. I do love that quote about setbacks and comebacks!


    • I can’t tell if I was just experiencing the typical winter blues, but I really sunk into a discouraged mood of ‘why bother’.

      I know that once Helen returns, and especially when the snow starts to disappear, I will feel re-energized 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The sculptures are wonderful! I’d like to be with Helen in Portugal right now. I bet there’s a lot of riding places there. 🙂

    Hopefully you’re input, and others who’ve tried to ride the TransCanada Trail will bring about a change to better the trail, and description for those that follow you. You’re a Trailblazer! True to your explorer self. My favorite motto may serve you well right now through this grounded by winter period…” Set backs are the stepping stones to comebacks!”
    I have no idea who said it first, but it resonates with me, and has become my motto when times get tough.

    I copied it years ago when I first read it, arted it up a bit, and have had it on my fridge since.

    You will comeback you’re too stubborn not to. I say that as someone who gets that. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that quote! It works for me too. I will have to borrow it from you 🙂

      I do appreciate that this cross-country trail has been a highly ambitious project that will take a long time to mature. In the meantime, the early travellers on it are experiencing all the growing pains.
      It is so apparent to us already that some communities have embraced the trail with more enthusiasm than others.

      Your comment about being a trailblazer reminded me of that old saying about being able to recognize a leader by all the arrows in his back 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Don’t let anyone discourage you from completing your journey, but do be cautious! And, that is absolutely the right attitude about focusing on seeing Canada. Great sculptures – some of them are kind of eerie.


    • You’re right about the eeriness of some sculptures. I didn’t even post the ones that I found a little creepy. I don’t think that was the intention 🙂

      During a long term project like this one, it’s normal to occasionally have doubts and want to forget the whole thing. During a winter like this one, it’s even more to be expected. I just have to keep my eye on the real prize … the sense of discovery 🙂


  10. What an interesting post, Thanks for sharing it. I would be wary of biking on roads. It just doesn\t seem safe. Looking forward to following your travels. I think it is so wonderful and adventurous!


  11. I am so glad to read that you’ve decided to continue. I completely agree — that is NOTHING that says you need to travel the road sections.


    • Thanks for your support, Donna.
      So far, we’ve been driving road sections whenever possible – which isn’t so bad. Whenever we see something that interests us, we try to stop and explore.
      I have to keep reminding myself that this is the real reason why we’re doing this – discovering our great country. Whether we walk, hike, or drive … it’s still a remarkable adventure.


    • Thanks Janis.
      Penetanguishene was such a wonderful discovery and the sculptures were so detailed in symbolism.
      The articles I was reading really started to get me down. This country is just so damn large, the logistics of this journey is insanely challenging. Sometimes I think all this effort is just stupid.

      … but then I wonder about all the Penetanguishenes that exist out there that I have yet to explore. THAT is what makes me excited again.

      As far as the road goes – we’ll be driving, not cycling 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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