LAKE COWICHAN -- Moira is sitting on the porch, taking a few moments to pet Marie.

“I’ve always loved cats,” Moira smiles. “They are a lot of fun.”

Her earliest childhood memory is being with her first cat, George. Now her canine clan includes Bart the Fart, Agatha, Bogie, Poppy, Willie and Dr. Henry.

“I don’t know the real Dr. Henry,” Moira laughs, when asked why she named her latest pet after B.C’s provincial health officer. “But she seems very nice and so is this cat.”

When Moira wasn’t rescuing a cat during the pandemic, she was considering cycling again.

“People used to think I was a professional athlete in my 20s,” Moira says. “Then I let it all go.”

In 1988, Moira began riding across the country. She made it from Nova Scotia to Manitoba before struggling in the prairie winds. 

“I cycled all day and maybe went 10 miles,” she recalls. “So I cycled back to Portage La Prairie and took a train.”

Moira couldn’t have felt more disappointed. 

“It was always going to be, ‘Oh, I’ll do it next year,’” Moira explains. “And of course that ‘next year’ never came and things happened and you gain 50 pounds and get out of shape.”

While the pandemic could have provided another excuse do nothing else, the educational assistant decided to use her time away from work to do something more.

“So I started cycling and every few yards I see (aluminum) cans on the ground,” Moira recalls. “And I think, every can I pass is 10 cents.”

So Moira started picking the litter up, and didn’t really think anything of it until she finally counted them. During her first two months of daily bike rides, she collected almost 7,000 cans.

“And I thought, ‘Well I don’t want to keep the money for myself.”

Moira shows me pictures of a huge pile of cans covering her back deck. She says she donated about $950 to Ocean Conservation Namibia, an animal conservation group coping with COVID-19 in Africa.

“I can’t change the world forever,” Moira says of her decision keep collecting cans. “But we can make a difference for those that are here now.

And that includes making a positive difference for yourself, which is why Moira kept riding until she felt fit enough to try cycling across Canada again. 

She’s planning to do it this summer — as long as its safe — from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.

“And because I’m going west to east, I’ll hopefully have the wind at my back this time!”

She’ll definitely have the support of Dr. Henry, Willie, Poppy, Bogie, Agatha, Marie, and Bart the Fart. They’ll be cared for at That Cat Hotel, which Moira operates, poised to offer themselves up for a congratulatory cuddle after their human’s triumphant return.