After walking an amazing 75,000 kilometers across the globe, 56-year-old Jean Beliveau completed his 11-year global trek and returned to his native Montreal, where he was greeted by family and friends.
With a crowd cheering him on as he crossed a bridge into Montreal last Sunday, Jean Beliveau hurried to meet the mother he hadn’t seen for 11 years, his loving and supporting girlfriend and two children. It was an emotional reunion that Beliveau could only describe as “amazing”. More than 100 locals showed their support for his effort by walking the last kilometers with him, through the streets of Montreal. The former neon-sign business owner has recently completed the world’s longest walk around the world, a journey that took him through 64 different countries and offered unforgetable experiences.
Photo by Jean Beliveau
Jean Beliveau’s epic trek began on his 45th birthday, August 18, 2000, after his small neon-sign business went bankrupt. He felt he was going through a mid-life crisis and decided to go on a journey to get away from it all. When his girlfriend Luce Archambault first heard his plans she thought he was just trying to end their relationship, but jean assured her that was not the case and time proved he meant it. He started his journey by running all the way to Atlanta, Georgia, where he slowed down his pace for what was to become the longest uninterrupted walk in human history. He remembers falling in love for nine days in Mexico, eating snake in China and being escorted by armed soldiers in the Philippines, and says he feels a certain peace now that it’s all over.
Photo by Jean Beliveau
The Canadian globetrotter stayed with 1,600 families throughout his global journey, and claims everything he’s experienced has made him appreciate the little things in life. There were difficult times, spiritually and mentally, but my wife always encouraged me. She’d say, ‘If you stop now, it’s like you’ve done nothing.’” Archambault, who supported him both emotionally and financially, would fly to wherever her partner was once a year, so that they could spend Christmas together. For his mother, on the other hand, the reunion on Sunday was the first time she saw Jean in 11 years.
Now Jean Beliveau plans to take shorter walks and dedicate his time to his family and writing a book about his adventures, like being taken by escaped murderers, his close encounter with a puma in a South American desert, or eating insects in Africa. Inspired by Terry Fox, the former neon-sign salesman dedicated his historic achievement to promoting peace through the establishment of a “ministry of peace” – a team that could lecture students about peace issues, as well as a Canadia peace corps.