Sentimental journey: Canadian canoes to New Orleans to honor uncle

Dominique Liboiron of Medicine Hat, Alberta, canoed 3,300 miles to New Orleans.
CBS News

(CBS News) New Orleans - A lot of people have come here to New Orleans for the Super Bowl but one man named Dominique has come for an entirely different reason.

Dominique Liboiron
Dominique Liboiron CBS News

Nearly a million visitors are pouring into the Big Easy this week and most are coming the easy ways -- on wings and wheels -- but we found one guy doing it the hard way.

Dominique Liboiron of Medicine Hat, Alberta, started canoeing, clean shaven, eight months ago. He began on a little stream in Canada called Frenchman River, followed that down to the Milk River, to the Missouri, to the Mississippi -- nearly 3,300 miles total -- all in a canoe.

Dominique knows there are planes in Canada, be he joked "We have to get to them in dog sleighs ... makes it tough."

He actually does have a legitimate reason to visit New Orleans, and it has nothing to do with football. In fact, when he started this trip, he didn't even know the Super Bowl was going to be in New Orleans. All he knew was that his favorite uncle Mitch loved this town.

"It's really hot. It's nice," Mitch said of the city.

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Mitch drove into the city on his one and only trip to New Orleans in 1992. He spent just a few days here, although according to his nephew, he never really came back.

"When he returned to Canada, he had a bunch of Cajun recipes with him. He started his own Cajun catering company," Dominique said.

Mitch also started up a local radio show called "Mardi Gras Mambo." All this in Saskatchewan, of all places.

Growing up, Dominique heard so much about New Orleans from his uncle, he knew he had to get there someday. And when Mitch died a couple years ago of a heart attack at 42 years old, Dominique realized you can't wait for someday.

Dominique's uncle Mitch
Dominique's uncle Mitch CBS News

And so he began this epic journey. Dominique did it partly as a way to let off some grief, but mostly just to give his uncle one last great adventure.

Tucked in the boat, safe and dry, he carried a small vial of his uncle's ashes.

Dominique's family met him at the dock and then they all went to a quiet corner of New Orleans, held hands, and let go.

"Alright, you're where you belong," Dominique said, pouring his ashes into the New Orleans ground.

This weekend, some men on a field are going to try to reach for greatness, but real greatness isn't always what you do in life; real greatness is often best measured by the greatness you inspire in others. By that standard, it's going to be hard to top uncle Mitch.

"He was my hero," Dominique said.

For more information on Dominique's journey, visit

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.