A man from Bathurst, N.S., has handwritten nine different bibles in the past three decades as a way to change his perspective on life.

Rodrigue 'Rocky' Boudreau says he started the hobby back in 1986 as a way to unwind in the evening. He would sit down with some tea and transcribe lines from a computer manual.

But Boudreau says he found the material boring, and quickly switched to an English bible, hoping to improve his skills in the language.

“It's something that you can't read once and absorb it all,” Boudreau said. “The more you read it, the more you absorb. There's a lesson in every line and every paragraph.”

When he finally finished months later, Boudreau started all over again. But this time, in French.

Budreau says he kept them secret from most of his family and friends.

“I thought it was just one book or two books, but when I saw the huge amount of work and knew what it meant, it was unbelievable,” said family pastor Father Wesley Wade. “Even writing just the bible is such an experience, I couldn't do it myself. I wouldn't have the perseverance to do it.”

After moving from Campbellton to Bathurst, his wife, Yvonne, discovered tens of thousands of loose leaf papers in boxes destined for the dump. She decided to save them, and Boudreau had no idea.

“They were all out of order, so I had to take all the books, put them out on the table, and every bible is different,” said Yvonne Boudreau. “I had to go through every bible to know which one it went with. It took me about six months to put them together.”

Each of the bibles has about 4,000 pages each, and about 20,000 total. While the timeframe for each one varies greatly, Boudreau will go through about 12 pens a month as he puts them together.

But after difficult surgeries and a cancer diagnosis, the work has taken on new meaning, and provided a kind of therapy.

“After the major operation I couldn't even write my name. Just wouldn't work. I practiced enough but there are whole passages in that bible that would take a prophet to read because it's not too legible! But it came back,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau was told he only had two weeks to live more than a year ago. He says his doctors were the best of the best, but he strongly believes his dedication also played a role.

“There's something special when you write a text, even now with a computer, if you're handwriting it, it's something personal,” said Father Wade.

While much has changed around him, Boudreau's routine has stayed remarkably the same, with bible number nine nearly complete.

Looking back on decades of late nights putting pen to paper, he says he wouldn't change a thing

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke.