Exploration

Canada’s 90 Greatest Explorers: Crucial communication

Part of our roundup of Canada’s 90 greatest explorers, these 15 explorers harnessed the power of storytelling to inspire others to discover and care for our world

  • Jan 31, 2020
  • 1,111 words
  • 5 minutes
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VILHJALMUR STEFANSSON (FRCGS)
1879-1962 | Arnes, Man. 

A celebrated Arctic explorer, ethnologist, lecturer and writer, leader of the 1913-18 Canadian Arctic Expedition. He discovered several major Arctic land masses and inspired more interest in the North than anyone else in his day. 

CHRISTOPHER ONDAATJE (FRCGS)
1933- | Toronto / Chester, N.S.

Adventurer, biographer and collector of traditional stories from Sri Lanka and elsewhere. He retraced the routes of Victorian-era explorers to attempt to determine the true source of the Nile. 

WADE DAVIS (FRCGS)
1953- | West Vancouver, B.C.

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Anthropologist, ethnobotanist, photographer and author whose fieldwork has taken him to some of the world’s most remote places, studying Indigenous cultures and their use of psychoactive plants, and the global decline of biodiversity.

ED BURTYNSKY (FRCGS)
1955- | St. Catharines, Ont. 

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The renowned photographer and co-founder of The Anthropocene Project, documenting nature transformed by human industry. He harnesses technology such as augmented reality to communicate with global audiences. 

JAMES RAFFAN (FRCGS)
1955- | Guelph, Ont.

World backcountry explorer, author and authority on the North and canoeing. He put a human face on climate change by traversing more than 17,000 km along the Arctic Circle, uncovering circumpolar stories of changing societies and landscapes. 

JEAN LEMIRE (FRCGS)
1962- | Cap-aux-Meules, Que.

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Global sailor, biologist and documentarian who brought attention to climate change by leading scientific missions across the Northwest Passage and wintering in Antarctica, and who travelled the world discussing the state of biodiversity as part of the UN-sanctioned 1000 Days for the Planet mission. 

TA LOEFFLER (FRCGS)
1965- | St. John’s

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Educator, mountaineer and expert in the field of gender and outdoor education; has reached the highest points of Nepal, North Africa, Greenland and Antarctica, sharing expeditions with classrooms across the world. 

JEFF FUCHS (FRCGS)
1968- | Manotick, Ont.

The first westerner to trace the ancient 5,000-km Himalayan Tea Horse Road trade route and the nomadic salt route. His writing and photography record Indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories and his obsession with tea. 

PAUL NICKLEN (FRCGS)
1968- | Tisdale, Sask. / Nanoose Bay, B.C.

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A decorated polar photojournalist, ecosystem specialist and marine biologist, and a co-founder of SeaLegacy, a non-profit that uses visual media to further ocean conservation and inspire action on climate change. 

FRANK WOLF 
1970- | North Vancouver

Wilderness adventurer, documentarian and writer. He was the first to canoe across Canada in one season, and has completed a diversity of other expeditions, including skiing Arctic islands and canoeing, ocean kayaking, cycling and trekking incredible distances. 

PASCALE OTIS 
1978- | Quebec City / Cambridge Bay, Nun. 

Migratory bird biologist, Arctic and Antarctic field researcher and videographer who once wintered off the Antarctic Peninsula on a yacht, sharing her adventures and the impacts of climate change with a global audience. 

ROB STEWART 
1979-2017 | Toronto

Known for acclaimed documentaries Sharkwater and Revolution, this writer, photographer and conservationist informed global audiences about the impacts of shark-finning, ocean health and environmental collapse. 

KATE HARRIS (FRCGS)
1982- | Atlin, B.C.

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Adventurer, author, photographer and conservationist who cycled 10,000 km across Asia’s ancient Silk Road. Through her international journeys, she encourages thinking “beyond borders.” 

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