Duo trek across Canada on $10

Stu­dents re­ceived 58 rides and plenty of good ad­vice dur­ing sum­mer jour­ney


VAN­COU­VER— A travel fund of only $150 may not sound like enough to spend much more than a day out of town, but two stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia man­aged to cross the coun­try for a to­tal of $9.99 thanks to the gen­eros­ity of strangers.

Philippe Roberge, 22, and Ori Ne­vares, 23, hitch­hiked from White­horse to St. John’s, N.L., over the sum­mer in an ef­fort to see the coun­try and mark Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary.

Roberge said they ini­tially wanted to go to ev­ery na­tional park in Canada, but the cost in gas alone would have been about $3,000.

In­stead, keep­ing with the theme of the sesqui­cen­ten­nial, Roberge said they set a bud­get of $150 each for their 42 days on the road. They spent the $9.99 for gro­ceries in Yukon near the start of their trip.

The coast-to-coast jour­ney ex­posed them to griz­zlies, moose, bi­son and the di­ver­sity of Canada’s land­scape while meet­ing plenty of Cana­di­ans in the 58 rides they were given.

“Some of the ma­jor things we learned is how nice Cana­di­ans were and how gen­er­ous they were. We never felt un­safe. We were al­ways wel­comed into peo­ple’s cars and homes and fed, which was re­ally amaz­ing to see,” Ne­vares said.

Roberge, who was born in Mon­treal, said with the ex­cep­tion of a hand­ful of trips in Canada, he had seen very lit­tle of the coun­try, while Ne­vares, who was born in Van­cou­ver, said he had pre­vi­ously only gone as far east as Saskatchewan.

“We re­ally didn’t know very much about our coun­try and we haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of it, so we wanted to ac­tu­ally learn and ed­u­cate our­selves about Canada,” Ne­vares said.

The trip not only ex­posed them to the changing land­scape through each prov­ince, but also the di­verse cul­tures and cui­sine. They ate fresh sheep meat from a farm in Al­berta, ribs in Man­i­toba, home­made pou­tine in Mon­treal, lob­ster in the Mar­itimes and cod tongue in St. John’s.

The trip wasn’t with­out a few bumps. The hitch­hik­ers said they be­gan ques­tion­ing their de­ci­sions af­ter nar­rowly miss­ing a tor­nado in Saskat­e­ch­wan and find­ing them­selves back un­der the same storm sys­tem in Man­i­toba.

“There was crazy light­ning, mul­ti­ple strikes ev­ery sec­ond. I’d never seen light­ning like that be­fore. And then ac­cord­ing to the weather (re­ports), there was ping-pong sized hail sup­posed to come in and also an­other tor­nado warn­ing,” Ne­vares said.

A driver in a pass­ing car took them to a Tim Hor­tons where, once the storm had passed in the mid­dle of the night, they pitched their tents in the park­ing lot. The next day, they made their way to Win­nipeg.

They said they learned many lessons along the way and asked all their hosts and driv­ers for part­ing ad­vice.

Roberge said a man from Monc­ton, N.B., said, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Of­ten times the thing is wait­ing right there for you, but you’re just too scared to ask so you never get it.”

They’ve set up a Face­book page and a web­site with pho­tos, video and a blog of their ex­pe­ri­ences from the road and they said they plan to put to­gether a doc­u­men­tary with their footage. With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith


Philippe Roberge, left, and Ori Ne­vares say the key take­away from their trav­els is how nice and gen­er­ous Cana­di­ans re­ally are.

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