Friday, 31 August 2007

Kenora, Ontario newspaper 5.14.07

Kenora Daily Miner and News, May 14, 2007
For the third time, Bhaktimarga Swami is heading across Canada byfoot. As a monk with the Hare Krishna, he is on a pilgrimage toconnect with nature, people and the country. He prays and meditates ashe walks through harsh climate and weather changes. He estimatescompleting his journey to the East Coast by September. He urges peopleto look at the simple things in life and take time to slow down. Hewas through Kenora Thursday and Friday.

Prescott-Russell news story 8.17.07

Marie Cicchini CASSELMAN
Jon Peter Vis, a.k.a. the walking monk, passed through Russell, Embrun and Casselman August 7 in his third pilgrimage across Canada to promote spiritual solutions to the material problems of life. The newspaper caught up with the 54-year-old born in Chatham, Ontario, in the middle of a sunny summer afternoon. He was sitting on the shaded lawn of the former agricultural museum in Casselman and had already socialized with the retired owner, Jean Dumontier. Wearing a peach-coloured robe, traditional Hare Krishna garb, the hairless monk had walked down Bank Street through Metcalfe, Russell and Embrun, accompanied by Doug Kretchmer, a video production business owner who joined the trek at the Ontario border on May 10 with his pet bird, a female parrot named Billie. The 7800 km walk that will take him to Cape Spear, Newfoundland by the end of September is not a fundraiser, he says. At 20 years of age, as a fine arts student in need of a spiritual outlet, Vis adopted a monastic lifestyle in the Hare Krishna movement in the order of the Swamis, as well as the name of Bhaktimarga (which means path of devotion). Vis started teaching yoga and mantra meditation based on a popular Hindu text. He manages to take an active role in theatrical productions, scripting, casting and directing morality theatre. He has a spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, famous for his work The Bhagavad Gita as it is. Heading east, the walking monk is trekking the second half of the country this summer. Kretchmer is there to drive and secure accommodation as needed. This third pilgrimage is broken up in two this time because the walking monk has commitments with youth groups. In 1996, he crossed the country from coast to coast, and completed the circle in 2003, walking from Cape Spear back to Vancouver Island. Swami was featured in The Longest Road, a National Film Board documentary detailing the history of the people who shaped the Trans- Canada Highway. On a typical day, starting at 4:00 a.m., the walking monk travels 40km on average, chanting a Maha mantra with chanting beads, a strand of 108 round beads in a bead bag, ending the meditation well into nightfall. This time, people understand the purpose behind it. The vibrations are better. They are curious and stop to chat. Some of them will open up their home and offer hospitality, said the amiable monk. The pilgrimage gives him a chance to connect with people, he says. Walking, meditating, and communicating with other travelers allows him to eradicate a modern-day culprit which he calls race- ism. Some of us tend to brush each other off so very easily at the slightest provocation, he says, blaming what appears to be a vacuum of virtues in society. So the pilgrimage is fortifying him. It's a matter of personal growth, which he believes can be achieved by working on his inner strength. The moments of strain in the walk and the unpredictable weather humble him and build up his tolerance, while connecting with other travelers along the way softens him a little. The message I am conveying is an encouragement to integrate long walks and meditation into your lifestyle, he says for those who are not already treading a path of spiritualism. One can also participate in the walking culture through donations to the 108 club at

Renfrew Weekender newspaper 8.10.07 part 1

Mercury Staff
A 54-year-old Hare Krishna monk who is walking across Canada for the third time ambled through Renfrew Saturday.
Bhaktimarga Swami, who was born John Peter Vis in Chatham, Ontario, was impressed by the beauty of the Upper Ottawa Valley. It’s the first time he has visited the Renfrew area, as he makes a habit of varying his cross-Canada routes.
As he cooled off his feet in the Bonnechere River at the Horton boat launch, Swami explained that he takes his long walks for three reasons: he has a passion for nature, it’s a "good workout," and it acts as a pilgrimage.
The 7,800-km cross-Canada walk aids in his personal spiritual growth and helps him face physical challenges, he said.
"It gives you a lot of reflective time to explore who you really are," he said. "There is a lot of solitude time."
See MONK, Page 15

Renfrew newspaper article part 2

August 10, 2007 - The Renfrew Weekender - Page 15
Monk finds growing tolerance in third cross-Canada walk
Continued from Page 13
During his walk, Swami performs a form of mantra meditation.
"It really focuses the mind," he said. Even when the weather is less than accommodating and the body is aching, "it helps keep you in a happy frame of mind," he added.
Through its moments of strain, the walk aids in personal growth and the unpredictable weather helps with tolerance, he said.
Walking across the country makes one appreciate the country and its natural beauty, he said.
Swami particularly enjoys being so close to wildlife, although he’s had a couple of close calls with some large animals.
He said the walk has also increased his appreciation of people across Canada. He’s noticed that people are becoming more tolerant.
They are more accepting now of him then they were in his first crossing in 1996, he noted. "I think people are opening up … the world is opening up to new ideas.
"People are pretty good … many stop to talk, curious about what I’m doing," he said. "I find most of them very friendly … and that softens me up too."
Vis was raised a strict Catholic, but changed his beliefs and name almost 35 years ago when he adopted the monastic life.
He, like many in the 1960s and ‘70s, was influenced by Eastern philosophies publicized by music groups such as the Beatles.
"I became attracted to this lifestyle and enrolled as a monk in the Hare Krishna movement back in 1973 when it was hip to be radical, daring and different," he says. "I admit that being a monk is not everyone’s calling, but it is mine."
As a celibate monk, Swami has evolved as an instructor of bhakri-yoga and mantra meditation, basing his teachings on the Hindu text Shagavad-Gita.
While comfortable with his vocation, Swami isn’t set on having others see things his way and encourages people to celebrate their diverse approaches.
However, he urges people to seek out paths that enrich their lives.
"I believe that collectively working on our inner strengths is one of the ways to heal a society that beckons for improvement," he says. "Let’s face it, we have an abundance of social issues on the table, and there are a lot of lonely people out there."
He believes that society’s problems stem from lack of commitment and a "vacuum of virtues."
"So I have come to believe that there are spiritual solutions to material problems," he says.
Swami says his cross-country tours are a way of gaining personal inspiration from Canada and its people.
In 1996 he went the way of a pilgrim and crossed this country from west to east on foot.
While travelling through eastern Ontario, he stayed close to the Great Lakes.
In 2003, he completed the circle by walking from Cape Spear, Newfoundland back to Vancouver Island.
At that time, he travelled along Highway 7 through Perth and Carleton Place.
He shared his unique experience and fond memories of his 16,000-km trek in The Longest Road, a National Film Board documentary detailing the history of the people who shaped — or were shaped by — the Trans Canada Highway, the world’s longest continuous maintained road.
He likes diverting from the major highways. After a stop in Renfrew, he headed out Bruce Street to make the trek to Arnprior along River Road.
He has divided his third cross-country trek into two parts. Last summer, he walked from Victoria to the Ontario border.
This summer he is completing the walk, with his trek to end at Cape Spear.
He said he recommends the marathon walk to people who have time on their hands and want to get in touch with their inner selves.
However, a walker should be in good shape before they start, he cautioned.
He sticks to a strict vegetarian diet and is accompanied by a support vehicle, driven by Doug Kretchmer of Quidamvideo Productions.
In the eastern Ontario segment of his walk, he was accompanied by Yamuna Jivana, a Hare Krishna devotee from Cuba.
For more information about the walk or to make a contribution, check out the official walk website at
The Walking Monk, Bhaktimarga Swami, looks down the Bonnechere to the Ottawa River from the Horton boat launch Saturday. He found walking along the historic river inspiring.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Teens at Oak Bay

Mon., Aug. 27, 2007St. George, New Brunswick

JoAnne Carney told Doug and I about local history. Samuel deChamplain and Sieur DeMont set sail in 1604, commisioned by the King of France, Henry IV, to develop the New World. They came to the Bay of Fundy and proceeded to the St. Croix River and selected an island. The harsh winter its toll. Out of 80 men, less than half survived. They didn't trust the natives and could not leave the island as the river around them froze for the winter. Life was harsh.
Now four hundred years later, communities have developed. As I walked on Oak Haven Road near St. Stephen, I met some young kids on their bikes.They stopped to ask what I was up to. I told them I'm a monk walking from St. Stephen to, to St. Andrew, to St. George to......"I am going to all the saints," I exlplained. I explained the difference between saints and satan since they asked. One girl asked if I knew Terry Fox so I responded to her that he had passed away about 25 years ago and that he's now in a new body. She was curious about that as well.
Some young teens at Oak Bay, where we took a swim and veggie wrap break, where also inquisitive. They happily recieved books by Srila Prabhupada.
Tom McLaughlin, of classic rock station WQDY in Calais, Maine, took a fancy to our walking story. He came through the border at St. Stephen to interview Doug and I. So a US media outlet came to hear our story to be broadcast tomorrow.
Another novel feature of today was meeting Neville Crabbe of the St. Croix Courier newspaper. It was his first day working at the paper and his first assignment was to interview the monk. He did a splendid job and I wish him well in his career.
37 kms

Rob and JoAnne of Tall Ship Adventures

Sun., Aug. 26, 2007 St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Doug accomplished a marathon himself today on driving. It was a good eight hour drive through most of the night after a very long day. We drove through periodic torrential rains that got us over the state of Maine from southern Quebec to southern New Brunswick. Then after a short rest, it took us another four hours of driving to reach St. Andrews to visit with friends.
Tall Ship Adventures is a whale-watching co-operative run by an old acquaintance, Rob Carney and his wife JoAnne. On a fifty ton ship along with tourists, Doug, Billie and I set sail to view the same weighted mammals called fin-back whales. These creatures, being the second largest animal on the planet (after Blue Whales) are a good 70 feet or more in length. They live quite a long time. Rob mentioned that a recent whale that was caught had a harpoon's tip, dating to the late 1800's, stuck to it's body. We caught sight of these magnificent creatures as they came to the surface for air. We also saw seals sunning on the rocks as well as playful porpoises jumping out of the water. There were also Bald Eagles flying in the sky around us.
The Vedic books of India talk of an avatar, Matsya, God's manifestation in the form of a fish, which was also gigantic in size. Like the story of Noah's Ark, a flood deluge was on the verge of destroying all of life but Matsya came to protect ancient Vedic codes (in hard copy) and saved them from water damage.
Whale-watching was enjoyable for everyone. The passengers aboard took great interest in Billie and our walking mission. At night we took rest on the Jolly Breeze ship docked in the Bay of Fundy.
10 kms

Near the Quebec border

Sat., Aug. 25, 2007 Border of Maine & Quebec

Wild apple trees are reaping tasty fruits. They are often situated at the edge of the highway and on the end of farmer's properties. Guess who's sampling these 'pommes' (apples)?
The walk is very much up and down or in other words, hilly terrain. Some of the Quebec farmers are left in wonder as they see robes of a unique kind flapping in the air. Most of the area is populated with francophones. A large Catholic church can be found in each small community like Ste. Matthias de Bonneterre.
Conley is an anglophone farmer who told Doug and I of the problems he encounters when going through the U.S. border. Most have increased security concerns since Sept. 11, 2001. So you have authorities at the U.S. border being cautious (overly perhaps). Fear is an interesting thing. Maybe we should fear temptations (or maya) more.
The few broken sentences, or my attempts at French, prove successful in my communicating with people. People in this area, like almost everywhere appreciate the notion of pilgrimage. In Lennoxville the night before, the owner of the health storetreatedour small temporary party of four with the food we took from the shelf. We were ready to pay at the till and she said, "It's on the house." There is a lot of kindness on the road. This travelling is addictive. Quebec is completed.
45 kms

With the owner of the Capelton Mine

Friday, August 24, 2007 Lennoxville, Quebec

There's water. There's earth. Together thy create mud. Mud is what the feet have to trudge through sometimes. Today was one of those days. When it didn't rain, the humidity was very high. Sweating was insatiable.
A man in his early sixties pulled over. He introduced himself as Jacques and asked if Simon and I wanted to go back to 1863, the time of the American Civil War. Jacques operates the old Capelton Mine which is open for the tourists. In the war, copper was used for ammunition and so the mine, closed in 1907, is now reopened for the public.
The words 'Free of Charge' were enticing and 8 degree Celsius in the mine sounded even more interesting. Some facts: 14 year old boys started 12 hour shifts; the average life span of a miner was 35 years old; a miner would earn $1.10 per hour (that was good money in those days). Donkeys, used as beasts of burden, in the cool, dark and dusty mines, usually died inide the mine. Rats were the alarm system. They were left inside and kept fed. If they would make a dash for the mine opening it meant they felt a shake in the rock and a collapse was coming. The mines were not regarded as a place for women, so superstition had it that if a woman entered entered a mine, a major tragedy would happen. When tired, a miner would take a cat-nap on a plank about one foot wide.
This was all intriguing to me and inspirational as to the energy of labour put in. You could not be lazy or crazy in the mine in those days. The mine was rustic and historic. Well worth seeing this kind of thing.
I'm out here to learn about people as much as I like to teach about spirituality.
On highway 108, a reporter named Perry Beaton, from the Sherbrooke Record (an English newspaper), came to take photos.
Guillaime and Caroline were our gracious hosts for the night in Sherbrooke.
38 kms

Friday, 24 August 2007

Walking down a bike path

Walking down a bike path

Thursday, August 23, 2007 Eastman, Quebec
Raccoons, skunks and porcupines take a major beating these days. I see lots of these little crearures dead on the highway every day. Their aggressors are automobiles of course. Quebec is a spacious territory. The Appalachian Mountains are now in our midst. The vistas are great. Bike trails are plentiful. I would walk down a trail with trees on either side, eat some trail mix and once the munching was completed, I would chant the Maha-mantra. What more could you ask?
At break time we went to Lac Libby, off of highway 112 close to Eastman, where I took a swim and ate some wraps.I also took a few moments to read a series of letters by Srila Prabhupada (my guru). This compilation was from 1972. One theme that comes across is the appeal by him to disciples to pay attention to details and always conduct excellent behaviour. One should never embarass one's teacher and bring ill repute. His warning was clear. It is something to hold dear.
Vedavyasa and Simon from Montreal joined us again today. The support is superb.
47 kms

Thursday, 23 August 2007

At Sylvain and May's house with Simon

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 Granby, Quebec
Doug tells me a funny story."I contacted a local TV station this morning. As my french is very limited (bonjour & merci), I had difficulty
communicating with the first two people I spoke with. I told the third person I talked to that I was travelling
with a monk who was walking across Canada. She said she would get back to me. After a short while I recieved an
enthusiastic call asking when they could cover the story and by the way...."is it a monkey or a gorilla your
travelling with?""Excuse me?" I said."A monkey or a gorilla?""No, no--a monk...a holy person," I reiterated, at which point we both cracked up realizing there was a language
Simon came out with Vedavyasa to join me on highway 112 at Granby. Eric Patenaude from L'Express came to the park
where we were picnicing to do an interview.
Our day was capped off with a home visit to Sylvain Oulette, who had stopped and talked to us on the highway the
previous day. He was familiar with us and our philosophy and had been to some of our festivals over the years. We
met his Chinese wife, May, and their one year old daughter, Satya. They asked us to conduct some chanting and we
happily did so.
45 kms

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Chambly, Quebec

Tuesday, August 20, 2007 Chambly, Quebec
I was always fascinated by bridges. For years I wanted to tackle the Jacques Cartier bridge because of its expansiveness over the St. Lawrence River. It certainly allowed me to see Montreal from a different perspective.
My walking companion today was Simon, a young musician who has played with bands on large ocean cruises. We spent considerable time chanting the Maha-mantra together to many melodies. Amongst the folks who stopped today nwas Sylvain Oulette of Marieville. He was thrilled to see us. I also met Nicholas Dubois of the 'Journal de Chambly,' a french newspaper. Yes, we are now in French Canada. One of today's milestones was Billie the parrot's introduction to french. Doug greeted some passerbys with a kind hello to which they responded "bonjour" at which point Billie replied "Bonjour.'
In the evening at the ISKCON Montreal centre we held a discussion about the soul's nature to be uniquely different from other souls, yet each soul shares similarities as well as individualities. Hence the philosophy of unity and diversity applies.
My day ended with a short walk chatting with two youth, Nanda and Manjari, and getting a good massage from two Bengali monks, Sachinandan and Antardwipa.
My weekend visit to the Georgetown, Guyana's first ever Festival of the Chariots was quite enjoyable. While there I met Georgetown's mayor, Guyana's Minister of Agriculture, and a prominent Muslim leader.
37 kms

Monday, 20 August 2007

Finally at the Quebec border
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 Dorion, Quebec
Just beyond the bushes I heard tires screech, followed by a crash and then human voices boisterously confrontational. This is a common enough occurrence on the road and the sight of it seconds after the impact convinced me once again of the merit behind walking as the safest mode of travel. There appeared to be no human injury, only a volley of words between the motorists involved.
The scene of the accident (at rush hour when no one is able to rush) was Ile de Perrot just next to Ile de Montreal. Yes I'm now in Quebec finally with one day's reminder of backtracking in Ontario. The reason for the shuffle was that Doug's van needed mechanical attention (the starter failed). A visitor to the Montreal temple, Jean Andre Gallant, was my assistant for the day. Jean was a former Rainbow Gathering participant, meaning that he was one of those carefree-spirited tribal culturalists and now the Bhagavad Gita's read had adjusted his ways so that chanting, eating blessed vegetarian food and monk association are now his ministry.
One fellow, Carey, saw saffron flash in the air after crossing one of the bridges on Highway 20. He turned his car around, caught up to me and inquired as to why I was where I was. He had been to the temple on an ongoing basis but disagreement with administration deterred him from coming. I encouraged him to keep up the activity of chanting and to let bygones be bygones. "Visit the temple when possible and take a break from mundane consciousness."
I had experienced a good day starting from the Quebec border trekking through towns surrounded by cornfields and ending at passionate passageways.
My visit to Vancouver over the weekend proved to be enriching for me and I'm now back en route while so many people find themselves in the car rut.
When you're in a rut you can rot.
50 kms

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Quebec border
It is the last day in Ontario. I started today's trek in a place called Monkland. This is not to be facetious. It's true. MONKLAND...and it's located by Angel Road. I asked a woman about the origin of these names. She was a local and didn't know how to answer-only that "it looks like spirits are following you."
Well good spirits did follow me today. Three chaps who do renovations pulled over. They were in the highest spirits, excited about seeing 'the guy on TV.' There were a lot of people like this. In Alexandria, I met Bob. He is the town's gardener. Bob is blind and he was pulling weeds and knowing of them by their texture. His handicap did not damper his spirits. I met a couple who just graduated from teachers college. They were commited Christians. When we discussed the soul's transmigration as an act of God's compassion in giving the living entity (the soul) several chances at life itself through reincarnation, they had to agree.
Doug and I had spotted some domestic Elk behind a farmer's fence. They were "cool' with their majestic horns. Although animals, they are spirits as well. I also met a person who could recite the meditation mantra 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare.'
In Alexandria, Steve Warburton of the Glengarry Times interviewed me.
42 kms
Wallking with Saraswati and Gilles
Thursday, August 16, 2007 Montreal, Quebec
Today's journey started at exit Ste. Anne Bellevue off of highway 20. It is on the Isle of Montreal, surrounded by a series of rivers meeting with the mighty St. Lawrence River. I passed by one of the campuses of McGill University, then a series of posh residential neighbourhoods. While Doug was parked at a street corner waiting for me a resident became suspiscious of the Manitoba plates on the vehicle and alerted the neighbourhood security patrol who responded very quickly. They approached us just after I caught up to Doug, at which point we explained what we were doing.After being in rural Ontario since May, we encountered friendliness. Now we are in a mega-city where people are uptight.
Saraswati and husband Gilles came to join me on the waterfront trail. As well, other friends from the Montreal area connected with us along the Lachine Canal. We sang the Maha-mantra for a distance on this green trail. Certainly I did not join a society of monks and lay people who take vows of silence. We finished at Saint Patrick Street and Charlevoix.
In the evening, Doug and I visited one of my godsisters and her husband just over the Ontario border for a wonderful meal followed by an after dinner kirtan (chanting). A nice evening before I flew off to join the devotees in Georgetown, Guyana, who invited me to their Ratha Yatra festival.
See you after the weekend.
33 kms

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Yovany and Billie

With the motel owner in Long Lac

With Gilbert and other elders of the Ojicree tribe in Long Lake

The falls at Kap-Kig-Iwan River where we camped

Sunset at our camp in Deux Rivieres

Outside our window in Longlac

One of our many bear sightings

An old car in the bush

Meeting a cross country cyclist

Laurel from Kirkland's Northern Daily News

The Kirkland Lake mining sculpture

Jonathan from Thunder Bay's Chronicle Journal newspaper

George, 67, catches up to us on the highway to join the walk for a few days

Enjoying a mudbath

CTV cameraman near Timmins

Chanting in Montreal during a break in the walk

Brent Meteorite Crater plaque

Eating with Doug and Billie

Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007 Alexander Point, Ontario
It was a fluid day. The intense hot weather forced fluid (sweat) from the pores, invited plentiful liquids to be
swallowed, and meant three showers and two dips in the Ottawa River. Ryan's Campground was a great refuge but the
shade of the hard and soft-wood trees wasn't enough to cool us. Such is the dualities of life. As the Gita states
"tolerate the extremities."
Sasha, from Deep River, came to do a story for the North River Times. She had recently been to China where a monk had
tied a beaded band to her wrist. So now she settled herself at our campsite for a few cherished moments to hear from
three pilgrims about travelling for the soul.
42 kms
Thursday, August 2, 2007 Petawawa, Ontario
The infinite slope of the highway's shoulder is a continual aggravation on the legs. A snowmobile trail was the
solution for a good portion of the day. Bare-foot through soft sands in the midst of wild blueberries and
raspberries. The shoes came on when patches of healthy poison ivy appeared.
Petawawa is a large army base. Sarah is a young woman employed in the medical department of the armed forces. She was
in the parking lot of a hair salon when she saw me walking by. She cancelled her hair appointment and ran out to ask
about spiritual life. We met later at the beach where we presented her with the sacred Bhagavad Gita as a gift.
Eight year old Shawn and I walked for several blocks together. He is with the army cadets and his dad is with the
forces. While on his way home, we talked. He carried himself like a real trooper with confident strides and head held
high. "What's your favorite team?" he asked. "I don't follow sports much but if there are any walking teams I might
start cheering for them," I replied.
Lisa Brazzo, of the Post came to do a story. Shawn Chase, of The Daily Observer, and also with the forces, just came
back from Afghanistan, where Canadians endevour at peacekeeping. He also came to explore the pilgrimage across
39 kms
Friday, August 3, 2007 Pembroke, Ontario
"The divine power didn't create junk. It is we who screwed it up," he said in relation to people and the world. Lou
spoke passionately with a large measure of compassion. He and his partner, Pam, had gone through a tough life
including alcoholism, but they pulled out of it and are on regular travels to help others with substance abuse
problems. He and Pam saw Yovany and I walking with our obvious robes and they just wanted to meet us.
"I'm working on humility. I'm working on it all the time," was my humble remark.I backed him. Behind all true success
is humility.
In Pembroke, I met a lot of people. Mary Lou delivers papers. She's in her twenties. She asked about my lifestyle and
asked if I was single. "Yes, monks are single. How about you?" "I'm not married," she said with confidence. "Some
people I know spent $80,000 on a wedding. In three months they filed for divorce and all the money went straight the
window. I'm not getting married."
I sighed and I thought, "These are the signs of the times."
Our hosts for two nights at Black Bay were a happy couple named Jay and Frank. I've known Jay for years as a visitor
to our Toronto temple. Her hubby was formerly a monk with the Franciscan order. We had interesting things to share
with each other.
42 kms
Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007 Renfrew, Ontario
Yesterday was like being in a sauna. Sweat at 4AM already. Today was cooler even though the Ottawa River was my
companion to the left for the last two days. The valley is beautiful. There are forests interspersed with farmland-
cornfields and more. Rich blue chicory, golden rod, purple strife, red sumac, and white Queen Anne's lace all colour
the earth. The dreaded poison ivy continues to crawl. It's an interesting mix. The Krishna mix.
Skunks cannot seem to manouever free of auto wheels. The result- disaster! The air is scented by them- something like
strong mustard seed oil.
But in the town of Renfrew, people were terrific. Chris Kyte from MYFM radio and I had a nice little chat and a DJ
from CJHR radio talked about the monk passing through town. The Renfrew Mercury newspaper sent John Carter for
pictures and an interview. John and Minnie in Arnprior were delighted to talk. Minnie, who is originally from Burma,offered her obeisances as she had done for monks ever since she was a little girl. Amongst the three people of our
party, Doug, Yovany and I, we meet many people on a regular basis.
38 kms
Sunday, August 5, 2007 Carp, Ontario
The Ottawa River was a major thorough fare for French explorers. Now, four hundred years later, people have invested
in land with water frontage on this large but tame river. There are sections of white water and I'm told this is
where there is some of the best whitewater rafting in North America.
I have visited sacred rivers in India such as the Ganges, Yamuna and a host of others. I have bathed in them to go
for soul cleansing and have appreciated their worth. I also see a value in this river that I walk next to. If enough
people led pilrimages along its banks and recieved their waters, it too in time could become sacred water.
A ride to Ottawa meant going to our iSKCON temple to conduct a talk on 'the lovable object.
Katie Lewis, from the Ottawa Citizen came to clue in on my third walking journey.
30 kms
Monday, August 6, 2007 Kanata, Ontario
It has been two months since encountering an early morning downpour. Rain drops fell on the open tent at 2:45 AM. It
was time to rise, shower and get showered on again. Our host was Katherine, who runs an Eco Wellness center in Carp.
The lawn was our launching station for the early rise.
A bright, young university student named Kaspar, came to walk with me for some hours. At 22, he has the passion of a
young man, but prioritizes and makes spirituality his main focal point.
John Rotundo and a camera man from CTV came for an interview for the 6PM news.
The weather became steamy and the river was inviting but beach supervisors warned us of possible e-coli bacteria. They suggested that we go up the river to another beach which we did. It was fine. It sure beats swimming in a pool
full of chlorine.
An evening shift completed further trekking along the Ottawa River. The south shore is graced with green spaces,
parkland, and lots of upbeat people leading right up to the Parliament Buildings of Ottawa, the nation's capital.
Many people who had seen the Ottawa Citizen newspaper story about the walk stopped and chatted with me.
I finished the day's walking at.......
56 kms
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 Ottawa to Russell, Ontario
Today I dedicated all of my steps to a local man who gave up his life. He was a friend of a friend. Although such a
way of departing is generally not the most auspicious, collective prayer can help just as wishing someone well always
After a long weekend (Civic holiday), the traffic moved in full swing again. The passion was on and motorists
attentive to the road also noticed the robes "as seen on TV." The honking got contagious. In the town of Metcalfe,
Marc Gravelle and his partner Lori-Anne, who own and operate 'The Trading Post' store/ snack bar, treated Doug and I
to sandwiches and desert prepared according to our prescription. They were very generous and gracious. very nice
people. The media had covered the walk so well that by the time I reached Russell at 6PM, people were approaching me
every ten strides to offer congratulations.
The Russell Villager newspaper sent Christine out for a story and Bear FM radio from Ottawa also did a blurb.
One motorist offered a monk joke, "I'm sure you've heard it a million times. Here it is....a young man joined an
order that could only say one word each year. The first year he said 'hungry' so he was given more food. The second
year he said 'cold' so he was given an extra blanket. The third year he said 'quit' and the head of the monastery
said 'Good, you've been complaining ever since you got here'."
40 kms
Wednesday, August 8, 2007 Casselman, Ontario
On the last day, I read a welcoming sign to the Metcalfe United Church- 'What's missing? CH_ _CH." It was A catchy
quiz. You can answer yourself. The question addresses the need to embrace spirituality. I have been encouraging folks
to take to something spiritual because it checks the imbalanced lives we live. This imbalance was expressed by a
farmer I met today. He saw me through the window and came out to greet me. "Greed!" was what he identified as the
created imbalance. He talked of oversized homes with air conditioners left on while people went to visit their summer
cottages. "That weighs heavy on hydro output." He expressed that fate will do a number on us all. "Something's going
to happen because of this (greed)." I couldn't disagree.
A young man, Martin, pulled over and invited me to his workplace, the Municipality Office for the region. The office
workers posed many questions out of curiousity.
At lunch time, Doug and I shared our meal with the Yvan, the local potter, in front of the old Agriculture Museum in
Casselman and he shared his homegrown vegetables with us. Three newspapers sent journalists, Matthew Talbot from The
Review, Jonathan from La Nouvelle, and Marie Ciccini, the editor of The Prescott-Russell News.
I met two ladies who were Jehovah's Witnesses. Previous encounters led me to believe that members were very closed,
but this couple was fairly communicable.
Many people in the area adorn their froint lawns with a Madonna (not to be mistaken for the sensuous pop star). This
shows that there is a spiritual sentiment around. To that I say "Hooray!" and "Hare!"
Off to Montreal now to catch a plane to Vancouver to attend the Ratha Yatra festival. See you after the weekend.
32 kms