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Rene

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Bernie LeBlanc

With its shipbuilding history and movement of ships and sailors all over the world, it should be no surprise that Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, breeds adventurers. It’s where Rene Cormier was born and his world travels are legendary. It’s also where Bernie LeBlanc was born and currently resides. In between, he’s lived a big life.

 

Processed with Snapped. Bernie LeBlanc

 

Eventually the two were destined to meet.

Bernie’s training as a welder fueled his travel and adventure gene. At age 23, he went to Philadelphia on contract to build container ships. From there he went to Maryland for almost a year, which is where he heard about job opportunities in Antarctica. He’d watched documentaries about the ice-covered land of snow, ice, water, and rock on Discovery and decided to investigate. His quest for adventure overcame even his dislike of the cold. He was hired as an Iron Worker and flown to the South Pole where he worked a summer season.

After that, he touched down briefly in Nova Scotia before heading out to Alberta in 2006 where the oil industry was booming. A property in Tofield, outside of Edmonton, became his home base for 10 years while he did little except work. Bernie thrived on it and was gone most of the time, welding in remote locations.

He also loved trail riding, something he’d begun at age 13 in Nova Scotia. As much as he enjoyed his work, he missed motorcycling and began participating on the adventure riding forums. That’s where he got acquainted with Rene’s book The University of Gravel Roads, and met many people who were doing ‘crazy’ trips.

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At the same time, he was hearing lots of intriguing stories and seeing beautiful pictures from South Africans who’d come to work in the oil fields.
For someone with a latent adventure gene, it was only a matter of time until it was reactivated.

Bernie went to the Edmonton motorcycle show and met Rene. Rene’s tours sounded exciting, yet no where near as ‘crazy’ as the adventures he’d been reading about on the forum.

“I’m working and making good money,” he said. “What was I doing with it? Ten years had flown by.” He decided to join Rene in Africa, convincing two friends to join him. Last fall, he joined the Spectacular South West Africa tour. He’s travelled a lot but that was his first motorcycle trip abroad—and it got him hooked.

 

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“The ride up the coast to Cape Town was the most beautiful ride ever,” he says. “We were right beside the ocean.” He struggled to describe the experience. “A couple of times I was riding, and wondered if it was even real. It’s just so beautiful. The ocean above Cape Town is tropical blue, but it’s very cold.”

It wasn’t just the countryside that impressed him. “Cape Town is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.”

 

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Two summers ago when things slowed down out west, Bernie moved back to Yarmouth. There was no call for welders but as much as Bernie is adventuresome, he’s also resourceful. He’d worked as a landscaper when he was younger and learned of a couple retiring from their landscaping business. He bought the business and has settled in back home.

The pace is more relaxed and he gets to do more riding on his KTM 990 Adventure bike. “It’s kind of nice to drive on paved roads, but after a while, I want to explore,” he says. “I don’t mind getting dirty and I like the option of riding on dirt, trails or paved surfaces.

“It feels like I’ve travelled a lot more in other places than right here in my home area,” he says. “I’m content to discover more of Nova Scotia for a bit. Something else will come up when it’s time.”

 

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This August he’s celebrating his birthday at the Fundy Adventure Rally. After that, there is plenty of exciting riding along winding coastal roads along the Bay of Fundy, and many off-road riding opportunities. That will keep him busy for a while.

 

Photo Credits: Bernie LeBlanc