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The donor: Sam Blyth

The gift: $1-million

The cause: Bhutan Canada Foundation

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The reason: To rebuild an ancient pilgrimage trail

Sam Blyth has had a strong connection to Bhutan ever since he first visited the country in 1988 on a trip with former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

“We hiked the western part of the country,” recalled Mr. Blyth, the founder of the Toronto-based Blyth Academy. The trip sparked a life-long passion for the country and over the years Mr. Blyth has funded scholarships, sponsored children, served as the country’s honorary consul in Toronto and launched the Bhutan Canada Foundation. “I’ve got a deep and long relationship with the country,” he said adding that he still visits the Himalayan kingdom a couple of times a year.

Mr. Blyth has now committed $1-million toward the reconstruction of an ancient pilgrimage trail that runs across Bhutan. The 350 kilometre-long route was used for centuries and it connects dozens of villages. Modernization has left it in disrepair and Mr. Blyth is hoping the project will help reconnect people to the country’s ancient culture. “The plan really is to get people back on the trail,” he said adding that he looks forward to every school child walking at least part of the trail. “It will really introduce an increasingly urban society to the environment that they live in.”

Work on the trail has already begun and Mr. Blyth is aiming to have it completed this year when he will do a ceremonial walk with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

The trail winds through Bhutan’s spectacular and diverse landscape of mountains, forests and plains. And it will take most hikers up to three weeks to complete. “It will be one of the great, but maybe more challenging walks in the world,” Mr. Blyth said.

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