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Faith is What Allows You to Keep Pedalling
Motivated by Quebec’s 1995 referendum to separate from Canada, Chris undertook an expedition to “save” national unity.

My American friends describe me as a cross between JFK and Paul Revere, with a story that takes place in an Indiana Jones setting and has a true touched by an angel ending. I like to think of my message as a “God’s love story for Canada.”

Chris Robertson

In October 1995, the Province of Quebec narrowly voted to remain in Canada by a margin of less than one percent. On the Friday before the Quebec Referendum, my nine-year-old son James and I attended the largest rally in Canadian history in Montreal. This rally, and all in attendance, saved Canada from breaking apart. I decided at this point I would do everything in my power to make Canada stronger so my son James would inherit a united Canada in the 21st Century when he becomes an adult.

I saw the key to keeping Canada united was to strategically make the country stronger and to take our nation to the top of its potential. To do this I wanted every Canadian to answer just one question: “What will you do to make Canada a better country than when you found it?” 

To create this movement for continuous improvement in our nation I had to do something dramatic to get Canadians’ attention. I decided I would head out on what I called the "To the Top Canada Expedition" and become the first person in history to travel from the bottom of mainland Canada, 6,520 kilometres to the top, under their own power and over land. I decided I would cycle from Canada’s most southern mainland point of Point Pelee (a point farther south than California’s northern border) to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean.

To arrive at Tuktoyaktuk I would have to even cycle over the Arctic Ocean because roads only go as far as Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. Some people thought the real courage of this commitment to Canada was for me to cash in all my retirement savings to fund the "To The Top Canada Expedition."

On March 1, 1997 the national media watched as the "To The Top Canada Expedition" began at Point Pelee. En route to the top, there were rallies in 51 different communities, where I challenged every Canadian to embrace the question: “What will you do to make Canada a better country than when you found it?”

Alone in the wilderness with God

During the "To The Top Canada Expedition" I had four close encounters with death, including almost being hit by a transport truck, a confrontation with a bear, almost being struck by lightning and just missing a rock avalanche high in the Rockies. It was clear that God was watching over me and keeping me safe. As I cycled north across the Arctic Circle I was totally alone. I had no radio or cell phone and I was out of contact with civilization. But the experience taught me that when all you have is God, God is more than enough!

High in Canada’s Arctic, I reached the community of Inuvik which was the end of the road north. I now had to cycle over the ice of the mighty Mackenzie River and then cycle over the Arctic Ocean to my final destination of Tuktoyaktuk. The temperature, including windchill, was 80 degrees below zero, and because it was now January, the sun did not come up during the daytime at all. I could hear the ice cracking as I cycled over it in the pitch black of Arctic darkness. 

Chris is seen here cycling over the Arctic Ocean in 80 degree below zero wind-chill. 

On January 7, 1998, I cycled off the Arctic Ocean to arrive in Tuktoyaktuk by the light of the largest full moon I had ever seen. It hung like a beacon over the community, guiding me in. The next morning a welcome celebration had the entire community of 600 packed into a gym to officially welcome me. National media reports were spreading across Canada, announcing that I had successfully completed the historic trip.

After arriving in Tuktoyaktuk, I opened my Good News Bible and these words hit me like a baseball bat: “When that time comes, there will no longer be cold or frost, nor any darkness. There will always be daylight, even at nighttime. When this will happen is only known to the Lord” (Zechariah 14 6-7).

I believe God was telling me, Chris you’re finished! You don’t have to face the freezing cold or the total darkness anymore. God even said He was going to make it light for 24 hours a day and here I was in one of the very few places on the planet where that happens Tuktoyaktuk, the land of the midnight sun.

Now, in 2009, 11 years after the completion of the "To The Top Canada Expedition," I am still the only person in history to have traveled from the bottom of mainland Canada 6,520 kilometres to the top under their own power or by any means of transportation over land. I speak to thousands of Canadian every year now including more than 100 schools a year. I like to tell them faith is like riding a bicycle. If you just keep pedalling, it will take you anywhere you want to go! 

Chris Robertson brings his award-winning multimedia adventure story to churches across North America. There is no charge to have Chris speak to your church but reimbursement of travel charges is appreciated. To contact Chris Robertson, please call him at 1-905-930-8675  or visit www.chrisrobertson.com.

Originally published in Beacon, September/October 2008. Updated, July 2009.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca.

C9JL29

 

 
 
 
 

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