(Jake Griffin successfully reached his aspiration to bike-pack across Canada some day. He left Victoria, British Columbia in April 2021 during a pandemic and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in May, 2021. Photos: captured from Jake’s incredible YouTube video of his trip and we encourage you to watch.)
Jacob Griffin is a graduate from Sacred Heart High School in 2012 and lived in Stittsville for eight years. For two years, he was a member of the Governor General Foot Guards, working one summer on Parliament Hill foot guard duty. He then joined the military in Ottawa as a Reservist and transferred to the Regular Force as a Combat Engineer – performing these duties for four years. He looks forward to the day he can purchase a house in western Ottawa, perhaps Perth or Arnprior, to be closer to his sister who lives in Kanata (his parents recently moved from Stittsville) and his Ottawa Valley friends.
Jake, as most people know him, has led an interesting life as you will soon discover. He moved quite often within Canada when growing up as his parents had worked as RCMP and are now retired. With his current job doing domestic ordnance disposal, he has been able to travel domestically quite often. Jake told us of his travels he, “was usually missing the smaller, lesser known towns and provinces. I always wanted to know what hid in the small corners of Saskatchewan, as well wanted to undertake the challenge of making mountain passes, crossing the windy prairies and the desolate highway stretches of northern Ontario on a bike.”
We asked Jake who or what was his inspiration to ride from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and Canada’s country in between, he proudly replied, “my Mom used to bike pack. She did Vancouver – Calgary, as well as Vancouver – San Francisco. Her stories inspired my journey. The Trans Canada Trail out of Stittsville hosted a lot of my early day training rides. I remember saying to myself if I can reach Parliament Hill from Stittsville, I surely can reach across Canada – so I started researching the possibility.”
While in the military, Jake was posted to CFB Petawawa to the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and from there he was deployed to the Ukraine. He says of this experience, “I gained real life experience in that role and transferred to the civilian side which led me to my current job. Contractual based environmental work as an Unexploded Ordnance Technician. With that work, I dispose of all sorts of ordnance. Some being dated I recall as far back as the 1800s. We’ve found cannonballs, grenades, mortars, large artillery shells and literally everything the military has fired in between. Usually these items are unsafe to move, so we hit them with explosive charges to clear them safely. I’ve been a part of underwater clearances in BC, as well as land based clearances here in Ontario and other provinces.
I was in Ukraine for 5 months as a part of Op Unifier. Deployed from September 2014 -January 2015. Roto 0 is the first rotation of military troops there. So we had a hand in developing the camp, setting up proper living quarters and developing a teaching system we would then deliver to Ukrainian forces. We also worked closely with their EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams, learning and exchanging information. Combat Engineers specialize in many things. We are crucial in water purification, building fortification and other general stand up for the camps. Not to mention our combat capabilities. Combat Engineers help troops live, move and fight – and deny the same to the enemy.”
Jake was fortunate to learn his specialized profession while in the military, and in his current contract position, it provided him the opportunity to bike across Canada – his long time aspiration. He shared, “At each job site I was at around Canada, I’d find the local trail and see how far I could get. Each job I was on had me continuing to train, explore, push myself and dream of a trans-Canada voyage via bike. I’ve been back and forth from Victoria, BC the last 3 years for work, and the opportunity presented itself. Pandemic and all I decided to give it a go whilst in between contracts.”
We asked Jake if he has plans for another ride as the one he just completed in April/May. He said, “As of now I want to do something more local, the Central Ontario Loop Trail (COLT) is right beside where my next contract is so that’s on my list. As for far distance, I think Vancouver, BC to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico would be an amazing ride. I Just have to wait for the COVID storm to blow over.”
Why has Jake chosen to support the Canadian charity, Bikes for Africa (Africyle)? “I chose Africycle as the charity I wanted to support as I find the bike is a healthy escape. Going on a ride helps clear the stresses of life. It’s also a green method of transportation. Especially now, I can’t imagine some of the compounding difficulties in Africa. Aiding someone in a healthy way by supplying them the means to get on a bike was something that just made sense to me. A bicycle can make a world of difference to someone who has to walk for water, has no other means of transportation and for someone who needs to escape life in a healthy way. Africycle is also based out of Toronto, it’s not local per se but still close.”
Enjoy the incredible views of our beautiful country as Jake shares his story and travels through snow, rain and sun, remapping his trip because of COVID-19 restrictions, from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. And please donate to the Africyle a cause dear to his heart.