Can Geo Talks

Photo: Ben Powless/Can Geo

Can Geo Talks is a dynamic speaker series featuring some of the most fascinating individuals working in the fields of geography, exploration, environmental science, journalism, history and more.

Past presenters include world-renowned cave diver and Royal Canadian Geographical Society Explorer-in-Residence Jill Heinerth, actor and comedian Sir Michael Palin, award-winning photographer Michelle Valberg, and bestselling author and RCGS Westaway Explorer-in-Residence Adam Shoalts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Can Geo Talks went virtual, with livestreamed presentations from expert ornithologist Dr. David Bird, author and journalist J.B. MacKinnon, biologist Suzanne Simard, historian Margaret MacMillan and more. 

We are excited to welcome audiences back to Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration for in-person talks. Upcoming events will be posted here. Unless otherwise specified, all events will take place at 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

Can Geo Talks presents Roy MacGregor
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Join Canadian Geographic as one of Canada’s greatest journalists shares a half century of the stories behind the stories.

From his vantage point harnessed to a tree overlooking the town of Huntsville (he tended to wander), a very young Roy MacGregor got in the habit of watching people—what they did, who they talked to, where they went. He has been getting to know his fellow Canadians and telling us all about them ever since. From his early days in the pages of Maclean’s, to stints at the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, National Post and most famously from his perch on page two of the Globe and Mail, MacGregor was one of the country’s must-read journalists.

While news media were leaning increasingly right or left, he always leaned north, his curiosity trained by the deep woods and cold lakes of Algonquin Park to share stories from Canada’s farthest reaches, even as he worked in the newsrooms of its southern capitals. From Parliament to the backyard rink, subarctic shores to prairie expanses, MacGregor has shaped the way Canadians see and think about themselves—never entirely untethered from the land and its history.

About Roy MacGregor

Roy MacGregor is the acclaimed and bestselling author of Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey (shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award); A Life in the Bush (winner of the US Rutstrum Award for Best Wilderness Book and the CAA Award for Biography); and bestsellers Northern Light, Canoe Country and Original Highways; as well as two novels, Canoe Lake and The Last Season, and the popular Screech Owls mystery series for young readers. A longtime columnist for the Globe and Mail and numerous other newspapers and magazines, MacGregor won four National Magazine Awards and two National Newspaper Awards. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was described in the citation as one of Canada’s “most gifted storytellers.”

Can Geo Talks presents Ken McGoogan
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Join Canadian Geographic as historian and author Ken McGoogan shares new answers to a great Arctic mystery.

Urged on by the late Louie Kamookak, the celebrated Inuit oral historian, Ken McGoogan set out to discover the reality behind the myth of Sir John Franklin as Arctic Hero. In Searching for Franklin, while drawing on his own engagement with the north, he intertwines two main stories. In 1821, while leading the Royal Navy’s first overland Arctic expedition, John Franklin rejected the advice of an outstanding Dene leader, Akaitcho, and so ended up losing 11 of his 20 men to starvation, murder, and cannibalism. Yet back in England, when he published his official narrative of this nightmare, he was lionized as The Man Who Ate His Boots. Then, while leading an 1840s voyage of great expectations, Franklin got trapped in the Arctic ice and lost two ships and 129 lives, including his own. This time he was celebrated as a hero who died while discovering the Northwest Passage. Searching for Franklin challenges these visions. The book rejects old orthodoxies, incorporates contemporary science, and proposes a new answer to that most haunting of Arctic mysteries: what was the root cause of the catastrophe that engulfed the final Franklin expedition?

About Ken McGoogan

Ken McGoogan is a globe-trotting Canadian author who has published 16 books, among them six about Arctic exploration. His bestselling titles include Dead Reckoning, Race to the Polar Sea, and Lady Franklin’s Revenge, and his accolades include the Pierre Berton Award, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, and the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography. Ken is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, teaches writing at the University of King’s College, and voyages with Adventure Canada as a resource historian.

Can Geo Talks presents Pat Morrow
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Join Canadian Geographic and the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa as we pay tribute to a legendary mountaineer.

In 1909 the talented young alpinist Conrad Kain left his home in the Austrian Alps on invitation to work as the Alpine Club of Canada’s first mountain guide. Kain and the most talented of his clients left an indelible mark in the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia’s Purcell Range, with over 60 first guided ascents including Mount Robson (1913), Mount Louis (1916), and Bugaboo Spire (1916).

In this presentation by Pat Morrow, we’ll follow in Kain’s footsteps up some of his iconic peaks, while introducing present day local teens to the challenging granite spires of the Bugaboos and to the Canadian Rockies’ highest peak, Mount Robson. We’ll also get to know some of Kain’s friends and clients, such as Albert MacCarthy, who Kain taught how to climb, and who went on in 1925 to lead the first ascent of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest. Video and audio clips will complement historic and contemporary stills along with Morrow’s commentary.

About Pat Morrow

Pat Morrow is an adventure photographer based in Invermere, B.C. and has worked on magazine, book and corporate assignments, as well as shooting video documentaries worldwide with his wife Baiba for the past 35 years. In 1986 Pat was the first to complete the mountaineer’s version of the Seven Summits, climbing the highest peak on all seven continents (as documented in his book Beyond Everest), and received the Order of Canada for his photographic and exploratory work. He and his wife, Baiba, have won nine national magazine awards, and they now concentrate their volunteer efforts on a local environmental organization called Wildsight.

Admission for these events is pay-what-you-can. Your donations help the Royal Canadian Geographical Society put on more insightful programming like this.

In case you missed it

Watch a recording of our Can Geo Talk with His Excellency Whit Fraser.