DSC01897-1280x853We headed north by car to the Brandon airport. The 300 foot air foiled shaped black granite wall over looked by a bronze airman stood out before we even parked up.

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DSC01896-1280x853As part of Canada’s contribution to the Allied war effort in World War 2, 130,000 airmen from the Commonwealth trained at schools across Canada, many in Western Canada where clear skies and unbroken horizons were ideal for flying.

The names and ages of men and women who were etched on the wall were a permanent tribute to the sacrifice they made for our freedom”a Between September 1939 and August 1945, 18,039 died serving the British Commonwealth forces. Right at the end were the New Zealander names.

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Only our footsteps on the paved concrete could be heard as we moved along the names in utter bewilderment. It was the ages that hurt the most. War, what a sad waste.

The final sighting of a bison herd roaming the Canadian plains was recorded in 1907. An entire species had been rendered virtually extinct but for a few captured and domestically on a ranch. From that one herd came all the bison left in the world today.

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We travelled north to Minnedosa to a field that housed some bison descendants. Looking very much like the wilder beast of Africa except well fed and wearing huge scarves around their necks. They seemed at peace now in their surrounds even if to keep predators out, including mankind!

 

DSC01908-1280x853Faye and Bob had us watching kids building sand castles on a beach that fringed Clear Lake. We had arrived into Riding Mountain National Park and the excursion around the expanse of water in search of the Moose was without any sighting. We found a lookout that overlooked a prairie where as we munched our picnic lunch, we were again able to be enthralled by bison wandering freely; and swallows ducking and diving around us taking captured food back to young in mud nests affixed to the lookout rafters.

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Arriving home to another happy hour and home cooked meal, their hospitality was exceedingly exceptional in true Canadian style. Just like we have experienced this whole journey.

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But wait, there is more!

DSC01992-1280x853Before we departed New Zealand, we happened upon the author Steve Langston who wrote ‘Canada by Bicycle.’ Able to download his journey, we used this as a guideline for distances and services along the way. Faye and Bob presented us with a copy of his book because they are neighbours of Steve’s parents.

Furthermore, we started this journey by visiting ‘Mile 0’ in Victoria on Vancouver Island, alongside the Terry Fox monument. The monument was a tribute to the 21 year old who lost a leg to cancer; decided to run across Canada but didn’t finish due to his passing. Faye and Bob’s bridesmaid was Terry’s 1st cousin at there wedding 44 years ago.

Faye and Bob, their names etched alongside all those other who have supported our bike ride across Canada by tandem.

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Forever grateful.