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Town councillor walks from Edmonton to Fort Assiniboine

Helping Fort Assiniboine celebrate its bicentennial.
Town of Barrhead Coun. Rod Klumph, pictured here July 4 on Highway 651 near Highway 44, during his trek from Edmonton to Fort Assiniboine to draw attention to the hamlet's bicentennial celebrations. photo courtesy of Town of Barrhead communication coordinator Jennifer Pederson

BARRHEAD - Rod Klumph made it and with time to spare and that is even after deciding to extend his trip by several kilometres.

That is what the Town of Barrhead councillor told his colleagues during the July 11 meeting following a journey that saw him walk from the Alberta Legislature building to Fort Assiniboine — a journey of roughly 160 kilometres — to raise awareness of the hamlet's bicentennial celebrations taking place July 7- 9.

However, how much attention he garnered for the event is up for debate, as many of his fellow councillors had forgotten that he planned to embark on the journey.

At least, that is what they playfully told him before the start of the meeting.
Klumph started his trip on Canada Day at the previously mentioned Legislature building and made it to Fort Assiniboine July 6.

He chose the location because it was near the original Hudson's Bay Company trading post known as Fort Edmonton or Edmonton House, on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.
When he started to plan the trip, Klumph believed the most difficult and time-consuming part of the journey would be getting out of Edmonton.

"Because of all the traffic lights, I thought it would be just one continuous series of stop-and-go, but that never materialized," Klumph said.

Instead getting to the Legislature was one of the most difficult parts due to the renovations taking place around the structure, he said.

"Do you know how hard it is to pull a wagon to the Legislature grounds?"

When he first announced he would make the trip at the May 23 meeting, Klumph estimated it would take him eight days to make the 160-kilometre journey, travelling in 20-kilometre segments pulling all his provisions in a gardening wagon behind him, after which he would look for a suitable campsite.

Initially, Klumph had planned to take a hybrid route from Edmonton following the original Klondike Trail that the North West Mounted Police originally had mapped, going from Edmonton past Morinville via Highway 2, then to Busby and on to Barrhead, before joining the Grizzly Trail to Fort Assiniboine.

"But because the shoulder bench toward Dunstable is so thin because I was pulling a trailer, I had to stop and pull over to the side when I thought it was too dangerous. Somebody is going to hit my trailer and take me with it, so I decided to go back to (Highway 44)," he said. "That cost me probably an extra 20 kilometres; I still got there two days ahead of schedule."

On the other end of the spectrum, Klumph noted how easy it was for him to navigate through St. Albert due to the wide walkway through the city.

"It was just wonderful," he said.
Klumph also took the opportunity to thank some of the people who helped him complete his goal, first and foremost being his wife.

"She was instrumental. If it hadn't been for her supplying me with tarps, food, clothing, water and a warm truck to take refuge in," he said.

Klump added that she also gave him two well-timed hamburgers, one when he was between Barrhead and Westlock, the other in the final stages between Barrhead and Fort Assiniboine.

"And I want to thank all the courteous drivers who made room for me on the highway. It is always nice to have that extra room when you are walking," he said. "Ninety per cent are thoughtful, five per cent not so much. Three per cent are bad drivers, one per cent are mean, and one per cent are just downright crazy."

He also thanked the people at Heritage Campground in Morinville, which allowed him to stay there for free.

"But more importantly, the next morning, (the campground manager) gave me beautiful, hot coffee," Klumph said.

     He also thanked everyone who stopped to check on him as they were driving by and offered him a beverage or a sandwich, as well as the couple of well-meaning individuals who did not always understand what he was trying to accomplish and offered him a ride to his final destination.

"No one will know," said Klumph's neighbour, who checked on him near Freedom.
Klumph said he also appreciated the letter he received after completing his expedition from premier Danielle Smith.

"That was very kind of her," he said. "It was nice to have the premier recognize me like that."
Mayor Dave McKenzie congratulated Klumph on his achievement.

"It is an amazing accomplishment. Although I am not sure we all believed you would make it and be able to come here today, I am glad you are," he joked.

As for if he would attempt another similar journey, he said probably not.
"I'm glad I did it, but I am glad it is done," he said.

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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