A well-travelled cowboy from Brazil has released stories from his adventures in a new book.
Filipe Masetti Leite immigrated to Ontario as a child, and as a teen, he became inspired to live the cowboy life after visiting the Calgary Stampede.
Now he’s known for travelling across North America in the saddle, normally with a few other horses in tow.
A few years ago, he rode from the Stampede to Brazil, then to the southern tip of Argentina. Now he’s getting ready for an Alaska-Calgary journey.
“I like to cover a lot of land but it’s a beautiful way to see the world, you know? You’re travelling really slowly, atop a horse, no noise,” Leite told the Calgary Eyeopener. “I just got addicted to it.”
Leite wrote a book about his journey to Brazil, Long Ride Home: Guts, Guns and Grizzlies, 800 Day Through the Americas in a Saddle, that has just been released in English.
The journalism grad also filmed much of his long-distance journeys for a production company called OutWild TV.
“It was a lifetime in a few years, so you can imagine I was sad, I was happy, I was scared,” Leite said. “We met a grizzly bear in Montana that nearly killed us.”
‘Very scary moment’
His horses saved his life, he said, because they smelled the bear and became agitated. Leite spotted the bear and pulled out pepper spray given to him at an earlier stop by farmers.
“I’m staring at this pepper spray at this point the size of an iPhone 6,” he said.
“And I’m like, ‘What am I going to do with this bear. He’s going to eat the Brazilian and then just burp out the spice. It’s not going to work at all.’ Very scary moment.”
‘Always an angel’
Part of the goal of his trip was to raise awareness to the drug war in Latin America, an effort which media covered at the time his journey finished in 2014. He said he witnessed multiple deaths, violence and families arming children.
“At the same time that I saw those dark points, there was so much happiness, so much joy. The people that helped me along the way was the most special part of the journey by far,” Leite said.
“Every single day, 30 kilometres a day and there was always an angel to help me along the way.”
Before immigrating to Canada as a child, Leite said his family was involved with horses in Brazil. But in Ontario, they couldn’t afford such hobbies, and he said his first Christmas present in this country was a mini hockey stick.
As a teen, his father arranged a trip for him to western Canada with friends. They watched calf roping at the Stampede.
An opportunity, he said, that changed everything.
“The world just went into slow motion and I was like, this has been missing from my life. So as soon as I got back to Ontario I joined the high school rodeo association,” Leite said.
“If it wasn’t for the Calgary Stampede, I don’t know if I would’ve ever gotten back into horses.”
He is planning to start his next journey, Alaska to Calgary, next spring.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.