Projects and Events
August 16 – September 1, 2021
Resource Staff for Adventure Canada’s Into the Northwest Passage.
July 21 – August 7, 2021
Students on Ice 2021 Arctic Expedition
November 15, 2020
Storyfest XVI in Seeley’s Bay
If nothing else has happened by now because of the pandemic, this will be the Intergalactic Launch for Ice Walker. Please stay tuned for details.
October 22 – November 1, 2020
The Toronto International Festival of Authors
October 9-12, 2020
The (Rescheduled) Explorer’s Club Annual Dinner
October 1, 2020
Eden Mills Writers’ Festival
This will most likely be an online outing for Ice Walker edenmillswritersfestival.ca
June 16, 2020
Inside an Explorer’s Arctic Journal
Delighted to be starting a six-part webinar series called Inside an Explorer’s Arctic Journal for my friends at Adventure Canada.
Episode 1: “Circling the Midnight Sun” is based on his book by the same title, which will take you on a rollicking around the world at the Arctic Circle with Dr. James Raffan. You will learn about the critical connection between cultural change and global warming. When you register for each episode you can link at the time the presentation is being premiered or, following the completion of the talk, registrants will be sent a link to the video of the talk so that you can watch or re-watch on your own schedule. It’s free. It’s fun. There will be opportunities for Q&A and there are things you can win by participating including credits on future Adventure Canada trips.
May 29, 2020
Whiskey Fireside Chat #69 with Kevin Callan, The Happy Camper.
May – June, 2020
Casa Seelby Become Zoom HQ for Pugwash Farmers’ Market
Vendors, like my wife, Gail Simmons, who sell their wares at the Pugwash Farmers’ Market in Nova Scotia are scratching their heads and trying to build a plan to get some kind of activity going in pandemic times. It’s largely volunteer, so we were able to use our home studio and Zoom account to help bring people together. pugwashfarmersmarket.com
May 12-15, 2020
Research Begins on Biography of Craig Macdonald
This exciting new project, launched in collaboration with Richard and Victoria Grant and the Temagami Community Foundation is tentatively titled, “Stix Macdonald’s Map.” www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/Maps/nastawgan/intro-nastaw.htm
March – April, 2020
Fun Home Recording Projects
It has been absolutely amazing what has flowed into the gig vacuum created by Covid-19. Our friend Bryan Dawe in Australia is looking for music to a bit of a Covid cabin fever lyric that he’s written. My sister Helen Batten was looking for someone to help her create karaoke tracks for hymns she’s contributing to the online services for the Church on the Rock in Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas. My friends Matt and Greta Ellis in Cumbria, England sent along a track of the 9 & 10 year olds from Greta’s school singing a medley of Land of the Silver Birch and My Paddle’s Keen and Bright for a Music Festival that was cancelled because of Covid … and that just had to be turned into a Precambrian Rock Video here in the Studio at Casa Seeley. And my Students on Ice friend Anna Kelley was looking to build a few voices into an Environmental Awareness Day video for a project she’s doing for her school in England. Covid seems to have made the world smaller in some very cool ways.
April 16, 2020
Zoom Connection to Spring Simon & Schuster Sales Conference
Heartened to know that book sales planning continues and delighted to present Ice Walker in person, by Zoom, to the cross-Canada sales force, all of whom because of the pandemic, are working from home.
April 6, 2020
Collaborating on Reprise of Zodiac Driver Rock Video
This time new words to the 70s smash hit, “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen. Working with a creative team involved in bringing this original Zodiac Driver rock video to light. www.facebook.com/james.raffan.92/posts/10215112927208807
March 20, 2020
Ice Walker to be on offer at the Book Fair in London, England
This was particularly exciting because this is where most international sales happen for Canadian books. Cancelled because of Covid-19.
March 20-22, 2020
Keynote at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner Weekend
This legendary gather in New York City was to be an early highlight of the year, returning the Explorers Club Flag that was awarded to the Mapping Ground Zero Expedition to the president of the club at a special ceremony followed by a keynote presentation about the expedition. Cancelled because of Covid-19. Fingers crossed that this event will happen on its rescheduled date, which is October 9-11, 2020 in the Big Apple.
March 18, 2020
Keynote for Lakefield Probus Club
Cancelled because of Covid-19.
March 16, 2020
First Low-Covid Keynote
To the members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, who had to cancel their in-person Annual General Meeting because of Covid-19. That meeting has been rescheduled for the fall but we went ahead with a different presentation (“Mapping Ground Zero”) as a gesture to members and a promo for the live talk that hopefully will happen
March 11, 2020
Special Talk on Risk for the Fleming College Outdoor Leadership Students
This is an annual event that always concludes with a visit to the museum storage building for a musical recounting of the story of Pere Lallemant, one of the big blue canoes involved in the 1978 St. John’s School canoeing tragedy. www.youtube.com/watch?v=khyN4y7f8qw
March 4, 2020
Keynote for the Probus Club of Greater Peterborough
A talk called “Inspiring Canada by Canoe: The continuing story of the Canadian Canoe Museum.”
February 21-22, 2020
Keynote at the Wilderness Canoe Symposium in Toronto
This annual event involved a talk called “Mapping Ground Zero” and a musical collaboration with Nashville singer/songwriter Jerry Vandiver and fiddler Anne Lindsay with songs from his latest CD of canoe songs.
January 14-17, 2020
The Fourth Most Excellent Expedition to the Mazinaawbikinigin of Pictured Lake
This time with students and teachers from Keewaytinook Internet High School based in Fort William First Nation.
January 10, 2020
Named by Canadian Geographic as one of Canada’s 90 Greatest Explorers.
For it’s 90th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society assembled an expert panel to “give us Canada’s greatest explorers, dead or alive, mariner, mountain climber, polar trekker, anthropologist or astronaut. The only condition? Their picks must have been born in Canada or lived here long enough to quality for citizenship by today’s standards. As an accidental Canadian, this came as a nice surprise. www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/canadas-90-greatest-explorers
January – September, 2020
Ice Walker in Production
Having signed this project with my long time friend and publisher, Phyllis Bruce, at Simon & Schuster Canada back in 2016, it was a very exciting moment to pass on the final manuscript to S&S to begin the production process for a September release.
November 29-30, 2019
Hosting Jack Matthews Fellow, Kate Harris
November 24-28, 2019
Welsh Open Canoeing Symposium
Delighted to be invited back to the UK to speak to kindred paddling spirits at this annual event. Two evening keynotes, one about the Cdn Canoe Museum and one about my recent project in the Marshall Islands. Convenor of this event is the British paddling legend, Ray Goodwin. www.raygoodwin.com
November 17, 2019
Storyfest XV in Seeley’s Bay Community Centre
This fundraiser, to another packed house, was called “Okeanos: Mapping Ground Zero.”
October 9, 2019
International Overnight at the Canadian Canoe Museum
A pleasure to host Prof. Julian Fulbrooke and a group of scout leaders from London, England for a cook’s tour and overnight at the museum as they make their way to a fall canoe trip in Killarney. www.canoemuseum.ca
October 2, 2019
Rideau Waterway Land Trust AGM Keynote
At the River Mill Restaurant in Kingston. Talk is entitled “Accessible Wildness: Celebrating the Wild Lands of the Rideau and Beyond.” www.rwlt.org
August 6-17, 2019
Adventure Canada’s High Arctic Explorer
July 22 – August 6, 2019
Students on Ice Arctic 2019 Expedition
One of the most exciting products to be created on this expedition was a short video that Joanna Defoe and I workshopped with a group of international youth. You can check that out here: www.youtube.com/channel/UCobefDUn6NF7KtQE8hrqmhw studentsonice.com/expedition/arctic-2019
June 21, 2019
Recording Explore Podcast with David McGuffin
Episode #8 in a popular series produced for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/explore-canadian-geographic-podcast-episode-8-james-raffan
June 7-9, 2019
Keynote at Spruce Root Chautauqua
This is an biannual staff development gathering at Camp Pathfinder on Source Lake in Algonquin Park. Keynote title: “Risk is Not a Four-Letter Word: Reflections on the Canoe Curriculum.”
June 5, 2019
Public Talk for Wellington County Paddlers
An afternoon event at the Guelph Seniors’ Centre hosted by the Waterloo/Wellington Canoe & Kayak Club sites.google.com/site/waterloowellingtoncanoeclubca/home
March 24 – April 25, 2019
Mapping Ground Zero
Stoked to be starting a whole new line of inquiry, taking 40+ years of learning about cultural response to climate change in the circumpolar world to the tropics. Having accepted an invitation from Expedition Leader, Danko Taborosi, I’m joining a small scientific crew gathering data for the first comprehensive atlas of the Marshall Islands. We’ll be travelling for 30 nights on a Polynesian sailing canoe called “Okeanos.” okeanos-rmi.com
February 24-27, 2019
Canadian Canoe Museum Creative Workshop
Continuing the collaborative building of programs and exhibits for the new Canadian Canoe Museums, we have invited cultural leaders from indigenous communities throughout Canada to come together to workshop the themes and content for the stories that will be told in the new museum. Happing at Camp Kawartha, north of Lakefield, Ontario. canoemuseum.ca/collaborative-relations
February 22-23, 2019
Wilderness Canoe Symposium
Title of talk: “Wayfinding in a White Canoe Wilderness” followed by a musical tribute to legendary barrenland canoe guide, Alex Hall, who was too sick with cancer to attend the event. The song for Alex was called “River: A Love Song” written in response to a poem by paddler and outfitter, Wally Schaber, about his beloved Dumoine River. www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X3mioUhf9c&feature=youtu.be
February 10, 2019
Storyfest XIV in Seeley’s Bay
The fourteenth of these one-man-show fundraisers for the Seeley’s Bay and Area Residents’ Association since 2010. This one called “Druids, Drams, Dangers & Doctors: Tales from an Eventual Sea Journey from Aberdeen to Iceland.”
February 1-9, 2019
Canadian Canoe Museum National Council Recruiting Trip
An epic trip to meet personally with nominees for the National Council in Yellowknife, Bechoko, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, finishing with a stop in Thunder Bay for the Third Most Excellent Expedition to the Mazinaawbikinigin of Pictured Lake. canoemuseum.ca/national-council-2
November 21, 2018
Keynote at CCM Volunteer Appreciation Potluck Presentation
This is one of my favourite nights of the year. Only at at truly volunteer-driven organization would a night set aside to appreciate volunteers involve a potluck meal … made by the volunteers. Speaking here began in the early 2000s when I took on the ED’s role. I feel privileged to be asked to continue now even though other people are driving the ship. canoemuseum.ca
November 2-4, 2018
Keynote at the ACUNS Student Conference
Delighted to be invited the the organizing committee of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies to close their annual conference, held at the University of Alberta this year. acuns.ca
October 13, 2018
Co-Host the Annual CCM Beaver Club Gala
This annual fundraiser is a highlight of the fall gala season in Peterborough and this year includes the energy and experience of Olympic Kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who has been a great friend of the museum.
August 6 – 17, 2018
Adventure Canada’s Arctic Safari
It is a privilege to be able to work with Adventure Canada as a resource staffer mixing sailorly duties as a Zodiac driver with presentations and musical offerings in collaboration with other staff, crew and passengers.
July 23 – August 6, 2018
Students on Ice 2018 Arctic Expedition
Always look forward to this journey each year, to meeting and being inspired by youth from all over the world. In addition to duties as an educator, Zodiac driver, and bear guard, one of the highlights of this year’s expedition was working both on the ship and at a later recording session at the DarkSpark Studio in Prince Edward County with Tristan John Bent to help produce a performance piece of his life story that was released this year. You can check that out here: studentsonice.com/success-stories/impact/my-story
June 8 – June 20, 2018
Adventure Canada’s 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.
June 8 – June 20, 2018
Adventure Canada’s 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.
April – May, 2018
Introduce Connected by Canoe Film at Paddling Film Festivals in Ottawa and Kingston
April – May, 2018
Seniors’ Storyfest at Seeley’s Bay Retirement Home
A four-part series of presentations on successive Fridays based on the popular ongoing Storyfest Series that has been running in the Community Centre here in Seeley’s Bay for more than a decade now.
March 9-11, 2018
Speaking at Wilderness Paddler’s Gathering in Vermont, USA
February – December, 2018
Building a National Council for the Canadian Canoe Museum
This is an effort to build a national network of advisors throughout Canada, from coast to coast to coast. The results so far can be seen here: canoemuseum.ca/national-council-2
January 9, 2018
Keynote at Ontario Parks 125th Anniversary Gala
This event in the Distillery District in Toronto is planned as a gala celebration of Ontario Parks with keynote presentations from Stacey Laforme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit and a guy from Seeley’s Bay Ontario who has spent an inordinate amount of time in Ontario Parks.
January – June, 2018
Intensive Writing on Ice Walker
December 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.
December 6, 2017
Keynote “Parks of the Future.”
Ontario Parks Staff Conference at Geneva Park near Orillia Ontario.
August 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.
July 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.
June 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.
May 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
April 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.
March 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 (kmhaycock.com), environmental toxicologist, Eva Krümmel (scientissime.com) and JR as writer and adventurer in the mix.
February 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.
February 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.”
January 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.
January 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.
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
February 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 explorers.org January 9th and 10th 2016 New York Times Travel Show Presentations in New York City
campkawartha.ca 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. www.canoemuseum.ca/blog/2015/5/14/adventures-in-understanding
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