Meet James Raffan. Speaker, Author. Explorer.

Projects and Events


speakingJune 11 – July 1, 2018

North Atlantic Saga

Very much looking forward to working my way west across the North Atlantic from Scotland to the Faroe Islands and back to Iceland as a resource person, Zodiac driver, and backup rock ‘n’ roll musician with my friends at Adventure Canada.

shipJune 11 – July 1, 2018

Scotland Slowly

Continuing work as a resource person, Zodiac driver, and backup rock ‘n’ roll musician with my friends at Adventure Canada. Looking forward to returning to my family’s ancestral lands and waters.


musicDecember 13, 2017

Keynote “Canada 1-5-OMG! A celebration of nation and community in story and song.”

This is the final talk in a year-long Sesquicentennial Building Canada Wednesday Lecture Series organized by the University of Guelph and Guelph Museums.

speakingDecember 6, 2017

Keynote “Parks of the Future.”

Ontario Parks Staff Conference at Geneva Park near Orillia Ontario.

shipAugust 9 – 23, 2017

Students on Ice 2017 Arctic Expedition

Continuing a long relationship with Founder Geoff Green and the amazing Students on Ice team, I’m looking forward to joining another powerful cross-cultural experience on a journey from Resolute, Nunavut to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, as an educator, Zodiac driver, bear guard and backup rock ‘n’ roll guitar player.

shipJuly 19 – August 3, 2017

Breaking Ice. Breaking Barriers.

With a very kind invitation from Quark Expeditions, I’ll be joining an amazing international crew of resource people who will be leading a Global Citizenship Summit aboard the only working Russian nuclear icebreaker in the world on a round-trip journey from Murmansk to the North Pole.

shipJune 1 – October 28, 2017

Canada C3—Coast to Coast to Coast

A 150 day Sesquicentennial Circumnavigation of Canada from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage. This ambitious project, spearheaded by the Students on Ice Foundation, aims to connect with millions of people throughout Canada through the journey itself but also through its education and outreach programs. I’ve been asked to edit the C3 book but, having been part of the planning group, I will also be participating as a host, expedition staff member, writer and content producer on a number of legs.

canoeMay 2-11, 2017

Connected by Canoe

Leading a Sesquicentennial Project for the Canadian Canoe Museum—a ‘floating conversation’ about the future of Canada, involving a diversity of First Nation, Métis, Inuit and other Canadians from all walks of life, on a journey from Kingston to Ottawa on the historic Rideau Waterway, exploring the canoe as a vessel of reconciliation

compassApril 17 – 21, 2017

Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Course

At the Institute for Marine Training and Research at Georgian College in Owen Sound. This week-long course is required training to keep the Seafarer’s Passport current for those who work on ships in the Arctic, Antarctic and elsewhere.

lectureMarch 30, 2017

Presentation and Panel Discussion on “Belonging” in the Canadian North

Hosted by the Madawaska Public Library in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, with artist Kathy Haycock (, environmental toxicologist, Eva Krümmel ( and JR as writer and adventurer in the mix.

speakingFebruary 13 – 25, 2017

Lecture Tour in the United Kingdom

With events at Derwent Water Outdoor Education Centre, the University of Cumbria, Scouts UK, and Capel Manor College with a final Monday Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

musicFebruary 4, 2017 | 7:30pm

Northern Voyage:  A 50th Anniversary Gala Concert Celebrated Through Partnership between the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra and The Canadian Canoe Museum  Saturday

Showplace in Peterborough

(from the brochure) “Adventurer, acclaimed author and Director Emeritus of The Canadian Canoe Museum, James Raffan, hosts a trip through the Arctic Circle via Russia’s Borodin, Norway’s Grieg, Sweden’s Swendsen and Finland’s Sibelius.  The latter will be performed by celebrated American violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn on her famous 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius.  You’ll also be treated to the world premier of the Canadian composer Christine Donkin’s new work based on the legend of the Flying Canoe (La Chasse-galerie).  This beautiful new music was commissioned by the PSO and The Canadian Canoe Museum in honour of their partnership and the PSO’s 50th anniversary milestone.”

hikingJanuary 26 – 29, 2017

The 2nd Most Excellent Expedition to the Mazinaawbiginigin of Pictured Lake

Second in a series of annual winter expeditions to pay respects to the pictographs at Pictured Lake, west of Thunder Bay, on behalf of the Canadian Canoe Museum.

musicJanuary 15, 2017

Canada 1-5-0MG!  A Sesquicentennial Storyfest

Next in the popular Storyfest Series in Seeley’s Bay to raise money for the Seeley’s Bay and Area Residents Association, James is teaming up with Leeds and Thousand Islands Mayor Joe Baptista, and singers Gail Simmons and Will McPhail, to deliver a rousing musical celebration of the Sesquicentennial with stories and 4-part sing-along arrangements of a number of Canada’s ‘alternative’ national anthems.

September 6th – September 23rd 2016 Arctic Icebreaker Expedition: Ultimate Northwest Passage on the Kapitan Khlevnikov with Quark Expeditions

July 21st – August 5th Arctic 2016 Expedition with Students on Ice

July 10th – 22nd 2016 Heart of the Arctic Expedition with Adventure Canada

June 11th – 20th 2016 Expedition to Sable Island with Adventure Canada

May 20th 2016 Meadowlark Festival in Penticton, BC

April 29th – May 1st 2016 Gananoque Literary Festival

April 16th 2016 Keynote for the Ontario Wilderness Leadership Symposium Hosted by the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario at Ganaraska Forest Centre

March 22nd 2016 Keynote for Trent Northern Studies Colloquium Venue: The Canadian Canoe Museum

March 8th 2016 C.E.L.P. and Headwaters Interdisciplinary Programs Talk For staff and students at Centennial C.V.I. in Guelph, ON

March 7th 2016 Keynote at Wilfred Laurier University WLU Department of Geography and Environmental Studies in association with the Balsillie School of International Affair and the Faculty of Arts. Paul Martin Centre

March 2nd 2016 Keynote at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Policy Retreat The Venue in Peterborough

February 17th – 27th 2016 Western Speaking Tour Winnipeg & Calgary with events at Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, Fort Calgary and Bear Paw Elementary School

hikingFebruary 1st – 5th 2016 The 1st Most Excellent Expedition to the Mazinaawbiginigin of Pictured Lake
First in a series of planned annual winter expeditions to pay respects to the pictographs at Pictured Lake, west of Thunder Bay, on behalf of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Speaking Tour with events hosted by Lakehead University, Fort William First Nation, and Thunder Bay Field Naturalists.

January 22nd 2016 Environmental Sciences Symposium Keynote in Guelph January 17th 2016 Storyfest on the Road Fundraising talk called “Accessible Wildness” in Lyndhurst with Don Ross, Executive Director, Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve.

January 11th 2016 Explorer’s Club Talk in New York City This was webcast live and will be uploaded eventually to the Explorers Club Website January 9th and 10th 2016 New York Times Travel Show Presentations in New York City

December 15, 2015 Keynote at Camp Kawartha AGM  In return for this talk, Camp Kawartha offered to donate two places on this summers “Adventures in Understanding” cross cultural canoe trip to two youths from Fort William First Nation.

November 17, 2015 Keynote at Latournell Conservation Symposium

November 4 – 9,  2015 Workshops and presentations at Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival

October 21, 2015 Keynote at Laurentian University School of Architecture

October 16, 2015 Presentation at Later Life Learning Series in Kingston