Walking into a small village in Peru, Jean Beliveau heard the voice of a child behind him.
He turned to find a young boy extending his cupped hands toward Beliveau and smiling a shy smile.
Held carefully in those tiny hands were three of the first potatoes harvested in the village for the season, which was just beginning, Beliveau said.
"For me, this gift, with all of its sincere generosity, joy and genuineness was as valuable as the gift of a plane ticket from New Zealand to Vancouver," Beliveau said today.
Jean Beliveau is the walker.
He has spent very close to 11 years walking more than 75,000 kilometres across 64 countries and over all the continents.
He walks for peace.
"I want to bring peace to the children of the world," he said.
Beginning on his birthday in 2000 (August 18), Beliveau set out from his home in Montreal to walk across North America to South America, then across to South Africa, up to Europe, then the Middle East, South and Eastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand and finally back to Canada.
He is close enough to finishing his trip that he is becoming very anxious to see his wife, son, daughter and two granddaughters.
Granddaughters Laury and Amira were both born while Beliveau was on the road spreading his message of peace and putting his heart into every step along the journey to make the world a better place for them and for every other child in the world.
Luce Archambault, Beliveau's wife, has been his support from home and tries to help make arrangements for places for him to stay along the way.
But it's often not been possible and there have been many nights he spent in his tent in all kinds of weather.
Most of his experiences with other people have been very positive, said Beliveau.
For example, when the good folks at Algoma's Water Tower Inn heard that Beliveau was coming through the Sault, they extended their hospitality to him.
That's where SooToday.com caught up to him.
Tuesday evening he and J.J. Hilsinger made an instant connection.
"In exchange for my room at the Inn," said Beliveau. "J.J. asked for only one thing. He asked that I spread this message of peace. I could see in his eyes that this was very important to him. I can tell this desire fills his heart."
He hopes to make it to Spanish River or Cutler by his next birthday then it's on to Toronto to meet with Mayor Rob Ford and as many people as he can.
Later, his feet will carry the walker to Ottawa and a meeting with Prime Minister Harper.
What will he tell the Prime Minister after all these years and all these kilometres?
"I will ask him to make a Ministry of Peace in our government," said Beliveau. "The minister will work with other members of the government to bring peace, first to Canada, then to the world."
It it clear from the walker's website that he has made a positive impression upon many in his travels.
He said, part of the reason he was able to connect effectively with so many, even with language and cultural differences, was because he was walking.
"In many other countries most people walk everywhere," Beliveau said. "It put us on the same level and they were surprised."
The people the walker met who were also walking were doing so because they had no other means of getting around, and were amazed that he had chosen to go around the world in this way.
"We have access to all these gadgets to move ourselves to other places," he said. "They were very surprised that I decided to walk instead."
It was a great conversation starter and it gave Beliveau an opportunity to share with people in a way that many others miss when they drive through or fly over communities.
A few Saultites were also fortunate enough to come across Beliveau as he walked toward the Sault along Highway 17 North.
Notes about Beliveau from loyal SooToday.com readers follow and their photos appear in the photo gallery at the bottom of the story.
****************************** The photo is of Jean Beliveau.
It was taken at out campsite July 30 at Mamaise Harbor where we were camping.
He stopped at our campsite and told us so many wonderful stories.
This man is walking around the world.
He left Montreal August 18, 2000, and is due to arrive back in Montreal in October 2011.
He has walked non-stop for 11 years - 75,000 kilometres - through 64 Countries and over 54 pairs of shoes.
He will be in the Sault today please find this man he may be staying at the Watertower Inn as I believe they have offered accommodation for him.
It would be nice if you told his story as he is walking for world peace and these kind of people are special in this world today.
Please follow this up I am sure your readers will enjoy his story. Thank you for your time Teresa Rice
****************************** July 31 2011
Just out for a short ride on our motorcycle, heading north from Batchawana on July 31 2011.
We stopped to have a look at some property 30 kilometres north of Batchawana and bumped into a gentleman walking and pushing a carriage south along Highway 17.
He stopped and we began chatting.
The man's name is Jean Beliveau and he has been walking around the world since August 18, 2000.
He is on his way back to Montreal and hopes to be back by October 16 2011 to complete his journey. This day happened to be his 4000th day on the road and you can see by the pictures that we celebrated this day with him.
We invited him to eat, shower and sleep with us at our campsite in Batchawana, which he did.
He shared some of his many experiences around the campfire with us, awoke, we fed him some breakfast and took some pictures, signed his journal and he was off to the Sault.
He expects to arrive in the Sault sometime Tuesday August 2nd in the evening.
He is planning on spending some time in Sault Ste Marie, before heading off to Toronto, Ottawa and finally home to celebrate with his family in Montreal in October.
His goal is to promote peace and non-violence for children according to the UNESCO decade.
His journey will have taken him more than 75,500 kilometres across 64 countries.
More information can be found on his website.
It was a pleasure to have him as our guest for an evening and an inspiration to all of us.
We are so glad that we were lucky enough to cross paths with him.
Renee and Henry Jannes
****************************** I don't know if you are aware that there is a gentleman from Montreal walking across Canada and today he is probably at the Mile hill.
He has been walking since 2000.
That is right 11 years and he has crossed 64 countries.
Saturday was his 4000th day walking.
He is a very kind and gentle man.
He pushes a 3 wheeled cart.
I think you should drive north and seek this man out.
He is on his way to Ottawa to meet with the Prime Minister. Mary Anne Gasparetto