Week 5: Unfriendly Regina
June 17-23: Saskatoon-Regina,
Sask.-Verdun, Man. Total Distance: 354 km
We began this week by piling into the Fraser family’s motor home and driving from a very wet Saskatoon to the drier climes of Moose Jaw. Situated 70 kilometres west of Regina, on the straight-as-an-arrow Trans Canada Highway, we continued our cross-country walk parallel from the spot we left in Saskatoon.
They say Saskatchewan’s so flat, you can see your dog run away for three days. After walking across the province (the southern half, anyway) I believe it. We hustled across the Prairies, making great time into Manitoba, where the air is thick with humidity and mosquitoes. After a relatively uneventful week of walking, we again piled into the old Ford motor home and made our way to Regina for our weekend duties.
Joining a smattering of local pro-lifers, we gathered at Regina’s General Hospital, where they commit abortions, to pray that hearts and minds will be converted away from the culture of death to the culture of life. We pray that women stop having abortions and doctors stop committing them. Previously, I noted the tremendous support we received in Saskatchewan, which is why I found the reaction we elicited from the people of Regina surprising. About 15 minutes into our prayer, we were pelted with eggs from the top floor of a four-storey apartment building across the alley from the hospital. We were then greeted to a lewd and crude audio tape of a pro-abortion speaker. We were also harassed by a shirtless vagabond who was prone to bellowing out crack cocaine-inspired barks and howls. The icing on the cake were the keystone security guards who insisted we pray in the alley and not on the sidewalk. (Such a strange demand.) Nevertheless, we were inspired by those who joined in prayer; specifically, a couple of curious onlookers and a lady who was going into the hospital to visit a loved one.
Week 6: Losing our motorhome
June 24-30: Verdun, Man.-Winnipeg-Kenora, Ont. Total Distance: 473 km
We started the week off by bidding adieu to the Frasers’ motor home. The 30-year-old engine died after three solid weeks of driving. One of the pistons melted and we parted ways with her in Portage la Prairie, Man. – a town just outside of Winnipeg. It was genuine luxury having the motor home for those three weeks and we’re all grateful for the magnanimous generosity of the Frasers. But as our walk is about sacrifice, we bravely left it in Manitoba and dusted off our old tents.
After arriving on schedule in Kenora and testing the tonic waters of the Lake of the Woods (Ontario’s best-kept secret), we headed back to Winnipeg, where we spent our most engaged weekend yet. Our office support in the U.S. lined up six churches for us to speak at and we were met by about a dozen local pro-lifers to pray and picket outside of the Health and Science Centre, Winnipeg’s publicly funded hospital that commits abortions. The reaction in Winnipeg was tepid compared to Regina the week prior.
The weekend was also marked by the addition of my friend Joe Woodard’s eldest son, Tom. After just graduating from high school in Calgary, Tom joins us for the final stretch through Ontario. At the age of 18, he’s the youngest of the now-seven walkers. His cocksure enthusiasm has been a pleasant addition to the group’s chemistry.
Week 7: Indifferent Ontarians
July 1-7: Kenora-Thunder Bay, Ont. Total Distance: 480 km
There isn’t much to write about our first week in Ontario, beside the dichotomy of the landscape as prairie turns to rock, tree and lake. Also, there’s the realization that we’re no longer in the West and every step we take now is as foreign to me as it is to our two Americans. The good-natured kindness of Western Canadians has been replaced by what seems to be a more impatient, hustle-bustle easterner, even out in north-western Ontario. Thus far, we have received the least reaction from passers-by and those we speak to at churches, be they pro-life or pro-abortion. The indifference may stem from the illusion that makes it seem like everyone and their mother is trekking across Canada this summer for one cause or another – the people of Ontario may be numb to do-gooders. I’m curious, though, why we didn’t see any other Canada crossers until we reached Ontario – probably because they’re all coming from out East.
Week 8: Geese and mosquitoes
July 8-14: Thunder Bay-Wawa, Ont. Total Distance 470 km
Wawa is home to the world’s largest fibreglass goose, they boast. After a quick drive around town I’m confident that they could safely increase their swagger by including the other two extra-sized geese that adorn their town’s main street. It’s safe to say the second and third largest fibreglass geese in the world also call Wawa home.
Curiously, one native family stopped to ask what pro-life meant and illusion became reality when a local reporter showed me empirical evidence backing up my previous feeling that everyone and their mother is crossing the country this summer.
The town is also home to the coldest and wettest summer weather I’ve ever experienced. The mercury barely broke 12C during our time in and around Wawa. And, when it wasn’t raining, the mosquitoes were having their way with us rather indiscriminately. Suffice it to say, this week was by far the toughest mentally on the group, save for Tom, who due to his relative inexperience in cross-Canada pro-life walking, didn’t know any better. If it weren’t for sudafed and all the prayers we’ve been receiving, I don’t know if we would have made it through the week.