For fifty years, Gilles Goddard has traveled the highways of North America, spanning the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
The 85-year-old retired long haul driver recently co-authored a memoir about his travels titled “Angels Watching Over Me” with the help of Tracy Krauss, owner and operator of Fictitious Ink Publishing.
Goddard has traveled more than five million miles, visiting every state except Hawaii and Alaska. He says God has always been his protector.
“I used to have a license plate on the front of my truck that said, ‘God is my copilot.’ And believe it’s true. I’ve seen a lot of tragedies, suffered a lot of heart-ache, had a lot of adventures – and a few near misses, too,” says Goddard in the opening pages.
Goddard lost two sons over the years, survived five heart attacks, and has brushed with death several times while on the road. All these stories are in the book.
Goddard was the youngest of three, born in 1935 to a French family in Island Brook, Quebec. At 17, he joined the navy, sparking his love of travel and belief in people.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, you’re going to find two types of people: the good and the bad. Don’t ever give up, because there’s always good people around,” said Goddard. “That’s what makes you appreciate life, and people.”
While faith was one pillar of his life, Goddard says the other was his wife Betty, a hotel agent he met in 1980 in Edmonton.
“I was on the road most of the time, so we got to talking, and I said you know if we’re going to make a relationship out of this, we’re going to have to base it on something. We decided to base it on trust,” said Goddard.
The pair have been together ever since.
Goddard recently moved to Campbell River after 20 years of living in Tumbler Ridge, to spend more time with Betty, who lives in a nursing home there.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News