Patrick Vaillancourt, an award-winning essayist, speechwriter and political enthusiast, was born in the early-morning hours of January 3rd, 1984 in Cornwall, Ontario. Born the eldest of his family’s generation, and into a family of entrepreneurs, hopes and expectations of Patrick were quite high.
Patrick’s childhood was busy, but calm by comparison to much of the rest of his life to date. Having a competitive spirit, Patrick excelled at his studies and spent much of his time reading books well-above his grade level, playing street hockey, cycling and organizing a backyard wrestling syndicate that would see six of his friends elevated to the professional ranks. He also had a desire to explore the world, and was fortunate enough to travel with family members as a child throughout Ontario, Quebec and the Eastern United States. He would occasionally spend winters with his family at his grandfather’s winter home in Yankeetown, Florida.
Discord with family would come to define his adolescent years. The family situation at home was no longer tenable and Patrick spent much of his early adolescence couch-surfing and benefitting from the good will of friends’ parents. His first job, a cook at the local KFC, came at the age of 15 years old. With the help of his father’s family, now all living in Quebec, Patrick settled into his first apartment at 16 and would work jobs at night while trying to finish his high school education.
The rift between Patrick and his maternal family; however, kept growing and now started to affect other areas of his social life, predominantly relationships with administrators at his high school. Grades began slipping and attendance was being affected by Patrick’s schedule with work, and at the age of 17, Patrick would be temporary expelled from school, on the orders of the school’s vice-principal. After successfully appealing to the school board, he was reinstated two weeks later by the area’s superintendent. The vice-principal; however, made no secret of his dislike for Patrick and his quest to have him removed from the school for good. In response, Patrick would complete as much schooling as he could, taking summer classes to expedite high school completion. Despite his efforts, Patrick would fall short of graduation, and with the vice-principal gearing up for a battle to have him removed from the school once fall classes began, Patrick voluntarily left. It would not be until several years later that Patrick would complete his secondary studies.
In the summer of 2002, Patrick needed something to fill the void. Being estranged from family and isolated from much of his friends who were preparing for classes in the fall, Patrick searched for meaning. After a full day and night of walking around the city, Patrick concluded that there was nothing left for him in his small Eastern Ontario hometown, and decided to embark on a journey that would take him across Canada and the United States.
Armed with a notebook, some clothing and an old Nokia pay-per-use phone which inexplicably worked without any funds on it, Patrick boarded a Greyhound Bus in Montreal headed west. Shy and introverted, Patrick began to leverage the power of primitive online tools from his cell phone, creating a chatroom that would keep interested people aware of his whereabouts. To his surprise, Patrick would create relationships online with people across Canada and the US, and his travel plans would be geared toward where these people were. He would be welcomed into the homes of strangers on his travels, spending about 40 days on the road before arriving in British Columbia.
In a diary entry in July, 2002 upon arriving in Prince George, British Columbia he noted that “Canada’s beauty cannot truly be appreciated until one has seen it from one end to the other.” Having studied Canada’s landscape in elementary school geography modules, Patrick had written of the changes in landscape from the tundra in Northern Ontario, the plains of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the majestic rocky mountains of western Alberta and British Columbia.
Patrick would spend a month in British Columbia before setting his sights southward toward the United States. Having made contacts in the US through his surprisingly successful chat room, Patrick first headed to California, connecting with a friend who would provide him with a sort of home base for the next four months. It was from Sacramento, California that Patrick would travel throughout the United States, visiting all 48 continental US states in the latter part of 2002.
Near the end of 2002, Patrick, now exhausted and out of money, decided it was time to return home. Not knowing what to expect or do upon his return, he opted to spend a few weeks with his father’s family before travelling once more. He spent a short while living in Winnipeg before finally hearing the call of Canada’s west coast. Later that year, he settled in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 2003 and 2004, Patrick entered the world of political lobbbying, having made contacts with community organizers in the city. Working for the Greater Vancouver Regional District and as a provincial representative for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Patrick was involved in meeting with political leaders at all levels of government. Patrick’s work with the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver), particularly in areas of youth homelessness and addiction, won him awards from the City of Vancouver and other non-profit organizations in the city. As the provincial representative for MADD Canada, the BC membership to the organization grew with Patrick having a hand in the creation of a Victoria chapter and a Northern BC chapter in Prince George. He was also appointed to a federal government committee under the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) which allocated federal funding to organizations in British Columbia, allocating up to $10-million in federal funds.
Though this work was rewarding, Patrick would soon find himself in a position to travel again — this time, on the other side of the Pacific, to South Korea. Though his peers all knew that he was leaving, Patrick often joked that he wanted to give his notice at a committee meeting. In August, 2004, before a Vancouver City Council meeting, he gave his last speech as a representative of Metro Vancouver, in support of a municipal youth engagement strategy. He ended his remarks with “I never thought I’d announce my resignation from a position I loved in front of a Vancouver City Council meeting.”
Patrick would travel to South Korea in late 2004, taking a job as an English instructor at a time when the only qualification to teach was a professional TESL certification. Though he had only spent one year in the country, he had made a number of friends and contacts and knew that the country would play an integral role in his future. He would return to Canada in 2005, complete a degree all while working nights before finally heading back to Korea in 2008, this time working as a consultant for an online game-development company.
It was during Patrick’s second stint in Korea that he really came into his own as an essayist and a speechwriter. His work in Korea was the only thing that would keep him busy and masked troubles that were to come upon his return to Canada in 2010.
Emotionally crippled after the sudden death of a childhood friend in 2008 and an ex-girlfriend in 2010, coupled with Patrick’s difficulty finding work in the field of writing, he entered a period of prolonged depression that would last roughly three years. Though gainfully employed by 2011, Patrick isolated himself from those close to him and further isolated himself from family. In 2013, Patrick began to come out of his shell and returned to school, taking courses in communications and working for a campus newspaper, where he could pursue further writing. This would culminate in Patrick unexpectedly winning the presidency of the Canadian University Press in January, 2014.
Patrick relocated to Toronto in anticipation of taking on his new role. Three months later, the organization’s board of directors invalidated his election citing a financial crisis, a decision that was highly controversial and the subject of national headlines in April, 2004. Patrick would return to Vancouver in May, 2004 having never served the collective of journalists he had been elected to lead. The remainder of the year was spent trying to put his life back together financially, given a costly move across the country. Though faced with economic and employment challenges, Patrick did overcome the emotional demons that had plagued him in years prior.
Patrick has written essays and articles on a variety of topics, most notably international relations, national politics, technology and society. He has also written speeches for business leaders, pastors and non-profit executives in Canada, the United States and South Korea.
At present, Patrick resides and works in the suburbs of Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition to his work, he is back to studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In addition to writing, he enjoys cooking, painting, reading, cycling, studying the Korean language, computer programming, documentaries and playing street hockey.