James Raffan

Born in a canoe (his mother has a slightly different version), James has spent most of his life dreaming about the north and (to quote Glenn Gould) he has “read about it, written about it, and even pulled up his parka and gone there”—for a portion of every year since 1977. James trained originally as a biologist, working with seals and polar bears out of Guelph University, and finished his post-secondary education with a doctorate in cultural geography based on cross-cultural perceptions of place in the Thelon Game Sanctuary. He has travelled and worked in the north as a canoeist, naturalist, photographer, researcher, writer, teacher, and expedition leader. For nineteen years, James was a Professor of Outdoor & Experiential Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, and is currently the part-time Executive Director of The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. Over the years he has produced a number of bestselling books, including Fire in the Bones and Emperor of the North, and written for media outlets including Canadian Geographic, National Geographic, and The Globe and Mail, as well as for CBC Radio and the Discovery Channel. His forthcoming book, Circling the Midnight Sun: Visions and Voices from a changing circumpolar world, is based on a three-year journey around the world at the Arctic Circle, was be published by HarperCollins in September, 2014. He is an active public speaker and community volunteer, a Fellow International of the Explorers Club, past chair of the Arctic Institute of North America as well as a Fellow and Past Governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, service for which he was awarded the RCGS’s Camsell Medal in 2009, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

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