Metchosin’s Pearson College president David Hawley dips the back tire of his bicycle into the Pacific Ocean before heading out on a journey to cycle across Canada and beyond.

Pearson College president sets out to mirror 35-year-old journey

On Monday, David Hawley packed his panniers, put on his helmet and dipped his back tire in the Pacific Ocean.

Thirty-five years ago, David Hawley, then 19, cycled from coast to coast across North America. Now the president of Metchosin’s Pearson College, Hawley journeyed from Boston to the West Coast.

On Monday, Hawley packed his panniers, put on his helmet and dipped his back tire in the Pacific Ocean as he headed out to cross the continent again, only in the other direction and with a few extra kilometres thrown in for good measure.

Over the course of three months Hawley plans to cycle up Vancouver lsland, take the ferry to Prince Rupert, cycle the perimeter of Haida Gwaii, and then head out across Canada, through part of the United States, and eventually over to Newfoundland.

From there he will cross the Atlantic to Scotland and cycle to Wales to attend the 50th anniversary of Pearson’s sister school, United World College of the Atlantic.

It is a 10,000 kilometre journey.

“I’m looking forward to falling in love with Canada again,” Hawley said. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do again.”

There will be some challenges on Hawley’s journey. He doesn’t know how he is going to get across the Atlantic. His plan is to try and hitch a ride on a container ship, but nothing has been arranged. He is also interested to see how his body, fit but no longer 19, handles the miles.

And then there’s the solitude. Hawley has no support team and no consistent travel companion. There is an open invitation for anybody who wants to join him on any portion of the trip to do so, but for the most part Hawley will be putting back the kilometres all by his lonesome.

“The big question is ‘what’s it going to feel like’ and how to deal with the solitude of 10,000 kilometres,” Hawley said. “A lot of thinking and contemplating and planning for the future.”

A side goal of Hawley’s is to meet a representative from all 50 years of United Colleges, which offer full scholarship grade 12 and gap year education to exceptional students.

There are 13 United Colleges in five continents, with alumni spread throughout the world. As Hawley travels to the original school for its anniversary celebration he hopes to randomly meet a graduate from every year of the college’s existence along the way.

“While this mini-sabbatical is a personal journey and refresher for me,” said Hawley in a press release, “I also know it will be an amazing learning experience and re-affirm my commitment to the United World Colleges’ mission.”

To follow Hawley’s journey, visit

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