Meet James Raffan. Speaker. Creator. Explorer.

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Bark, Skin and Cedar

Bark Skin Cedar CoverBark, Skin and Cedar is an intelligent and grand exploration of that great Canadian icon-the canoe. From the graceful birch bark vessels of the Micmac Indians to the wide and sturdy Haida dugouts, from the canvas-covered Chestnut Prospector to the sleek dragon racing boats, the fragile but powerful craft defines our history and our culture in a myriad of ways. James Raffan takes us on a canoe tripping journey: we are transported back in time to the notion of the canoe as a luminal vehicle, bearing the human spirit from one world to another; we are there at the Lachine Rapids, where Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain learned to paddle canoes, so different from their sea-faring vessels; we explore the canoe trip as a reflection of a heroic quest and the craft as a cradle or womb out of which love and new life will grow; and we investigate the canoe as a rich muse for our artists and profitable inspiration for our advertisers. Along the way we meet some of the canoe’s most ardent and colorful paddlers: Governor George Simpson, Frances Ann Hopkins, Edwin Tappan Adney, Eric Morse, Pierre Trudeau, Bill Mason and Kirk Wipper. With its fresh and unique blend of canoe history, legend, insight and imagination presented in an attractive gift book format, Bark, Skin and Cedar will capture a large and enthusiastic reading audience.

Review by Sasha Chapman in Quill and Quire.
Review by Michael Peake in Chemun


“unique perspective on our country, our heritage and how we see ourselves”  
Is there anything more Canadian than a canoe? In a remarkable journey across Canada, consummate paddler and writer James Raffan explores the myths, legends and history — not to mention his own unique experiences — of that perfect craft.Raffan recalls Native canoe traditions: how the boat was both an essential transport along the waterways and a symbol for carrying the dead to the spirit world. He traces the role of the canoe as an early vital trade link, its evolution as a leisure craft, its importance to character-building youth camps and to paddlers seeking refuge from urban life. In today’s world, Raffan examines the canoe as inspiration for artists, writers, and even advertisers — it has become a powerful and ready-made symbol of the outdoors to sell beer, clothes and cars.  Bark, Skin and Cedar is a wholly engaging exploration, offering a unique perspective on our country, our heritage and how we see ourselves.

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Excellent book giving plenty informations in a chronologic way, easy to understand and its profund literature constitute a perfect canadian heritage introduction.