Pierre Cloutier stands beside one of the four Belgian horses that helped pull him from Saint- Barnabé-Sud

Pierre Cloutier stands beside one of the four Belgian horses that helped pull him from Saint- Barnabé-Sud

Cowboy rides out his travelling dream

Pierre Cloutier sets out on a nine month, 4,000-kilometre wagon trip across Canada

Paul Brandt is going to want to buy the rights to this French Canadian cowboy’s song, but it is a story that can only be told by the man himself.

Growing up in Saint-Barnabé-Sud, a small French town five minutes east of Montréal, Pierre Cloutier set out on a nine month, 4,000-kilometre wagon trip across Canada because he wanted to fulfill his childhood dream.

“As a kid I dreamt of being a travelling cowboy, but I never thought I would travel across Canada,” said Cloutier, who arrived Sunday afternoon at Historic O’Keefe Ranch. “I wanted to live like the pioneers did.”

As he approached the Okanagan Valley, O’Keefe Ranch got wind of his whereabouts and tried to track him down.

“We have been tracking his story for a while and we heard he was getting close,” said O’Keefe Ranch events coordinator Sandi LaFleche. “One of our workers spotted him on Old Kamloops Road, I told her, ‘what are you waiting for? Go get him!”

Tambria Shortt didn’t have to go far to track down Cloutier and his horses, Bobby, Kelly, Ginny and Betty.

“We figured our farm was best suited for him and his horses to stay,” said LaFleche.

Cloutier will be at the ranch until Sept. 1, telling stories about his incredible journey and displaying his wagons and horses. Story times are available by calling O’Keefe Ranch or checking out their website.

Back in November, Cloutier couldn’t find any work as an auctioneer and his long-time girlfriend recently broke up with him.

“I didn’t want to hang around anymore. I wanted to move out to the Okanagan because of how nice I heard it was,” said Cloutier, who set out on Nov. 6. “Vernon seemed like a good fit with the lakes, the country and it looked like a good place for my horses.”

Leaving behind his parents, two older brothers and a younger sister, Cloutier came trotting into town in a horse-drawn carriage towed by four horses. He left his hometown hitched to two Belgian horses, and picked up two more horses just outside Pincher Creek, Alta. to get him through the mountains.

“The people I have met along the way have been so kind. Everyone has been so friendly and inviting,” said Cloutier.

Travelling along the Trans-Canada, Cloutier took Highway 33 into Kelowna before heading north to Vernon.

The trip lasted 290 days and remarkably, Cloutier only spent eight nights sleeping in his wagon,  never having to buy hay, grain or groceries.

“Everywhere I went, people had heard of my story and offered anything they could to help; a place for me and my horses and a warm meal,” said Cloutier.

The 41-year-old has been riding horses since before he could walk. He owned his first horse at the age of 12 and built both of his wagons by hand. One wagon contains all of his personal belongings, survival needs and a small kitchen, and the other contain supplies for his horses.

Cloutier completed his trip thanks to all the generosity in this country and because he stuck to his three rules.

“You can’t be scared to work hard for what you want; you have to truly believe in yourself and you have to break the rules sometimes,” joked Cloutier.

Cloutier says he doesn’t miss home, and stated that he always felt like home during his journey.

His arrival in the Okanagan is significant with the Interior Provincial Exhibition right around the corner.

Part of this cowboy’s dream is to start up his own show. He plans to debut his Lore of Star show at the IPE. “I have so many stories to tell about my trip. I think I will also start writing songs with all the memories I have made along the way,” said Cloutier.

“Arriving in Vernon was the cherry on the cake for this trip. This is a great place for me to finish my trip and discover my new home.”

Cloutier says his family plans to head out west to visit his new home someday in the future.

Be sure to check out his Facebook page, which has more than 4,500 likes since starting the trip, to see photos of his stops along the way.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Overwhelming support for Vernon businesses this holiday season: Chamber

Vernon chamber urges shoppers to keep dollars local amid pandemic with #voteVernon campaign

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Another death linked to COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon care home

It’s the sixth death at Noric House related to the virus to date

Design rendering for the proposed Coldstream Community Centre. An advisory committee will make a decision on the latest site plan Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Sahuri & Associates rendering)
Coldstream committee to review latest designs for new community centre

Design renderings have been released for the centre that would add 84 local child care spaces

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read