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.


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.


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 #7 in a popular series produced for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Listen on Spotify


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


Canadian Canoe Museum iconNovember 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

speakingNovember 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

speakingOctober 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.

shipAugust 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.

SOI Web IconJuly 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

shipJune 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.

shipJune 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.

speakingApril – May, 2018

Introduce Connected by Canoe Film at Paddling Film Festivals in Ottawa and Kingston


speakingApril – 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.

speakingMarch 9-11, 2018

Speaking at Wilderness Paddler’s Gathering in Vermont, USA


canoeFebruary – 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

speakingJanuary 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.

Book IconJanuary – June, 2018

Intensive Writing on Ice Walker


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 (kmhaycock.com), environmental toxicologist, Eva Krümmel (scientissime.com) 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.

2016 & Earlier

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 explorers.org January 9th and 10th 2016 New York Times Travel Show Presentations in New York City

December 15, 2015 Keynote at Camp Kawartha AGM
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

What others have said…

When I first heard of James Raffan, it was through one of those bio’s that read like a ‘70s Ronco ad — ‘It slices, it dices, it will wash your car, it’s the life of the party, it is a party!’ Well, this one read, ‘teacher, author, musician, artist, historian, photographer, consummate wilderness traveler …’ I thought give me a break! Well, without further adieu, I introduce to you, teacher, author, artist, musician, historian, photographer, consummate wilderness traveler … and now, add music producer to the list. Ladies and gentlemen, James Raffan.

Andy Convery

Sedbergh College, Papineauville, Quebec

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