I’m continuing to do Whisky Fireside Chats on my KCHappyCamper YouTube channel. I’m not running out of interesting outdoorsy types to interview, but I am running a little low on good whisky.

One of my favourite interviewees this week was good friend, James Raffan. In front of a blazing (green screen) fire and with a wee dram of spirits, the author/adventurer/paddler/educator/historian chatted about the moment he altered his life when resigning from his university teaching position back in 1999.

photoJames Raffan

Since then he’s been working as an independent writer and scholar from his home in Rideau Lakes north of Kingston, Ontario. He continues to organize and participate in a variety of annual expeditions and adventures related to his writing and research interests, and work as a teacher and expedition leader. Along the way, James has spoken across Canada and around the world and published several bestselling books, including Summer North of Sixty, Rendezvous with the Wild, Tumblehome, Fire in the Bones and Emperor of the North. He has also written for National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Up Here, Explore, The Globe and Mail and produced radio and television documentaries for CBC Radio and the Discovery Channel.

James is releasing a new book this September with Simon and Schuster. It’s called Ice Walker and is a portrait of humanity in 30 months in the life of a female polar bear in SW Hudson Bay. James explained the reasoning behind his latest work. “Yeah, I know, it’s a bit of a departure for me. . . it was an attempt to do what filmmakers have been doing for years, which is directing the messaging at readers’ [viewers’] hearts instead of their heads, hoping for emotional engagement that might inspire them to change how they behave relative to the natural world.”

photoJames Raffan

Here’s what artist, naturalist and author Robert Bateman had to say: "For most of my life, I have read stories of animals, stories that possibly made me who I am. My heroes have been the likes of Ernest Thompson Seton, who was able to get inside the skin of other creatures without anthropomorphizing. James Raffan's Ice Walker is a worthy member of that tradition. As he captures the smells, sounds and feel of the Arctic, we become engaged and travel with Nanu and share her world. We care about her, her cubs and her environment and end up wanting to protect those more. This book is important reading!”

The whisky chat ended with an update on the grand opening of the new home for the Canadian Canoe Museum. COVID-19 has slowed things down a smudge, but the plans are still solid on having the stockpile of historic canoes finally be placed beside water—the Trent Severn Waterway in Peterborough, Ontario (the birthplace of the modern-day canoe).

Grab a flask of Scotch and check out the interview on KCHappyCamper YouTube channel.


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