About the McGuffins

We are Canadian explorers, conservation photographers, writers, motivational speakers, documentarians and conservationists.

From our earliest years, Gary and I have spent our lives in the outdoors, the wild outdoors. For both of us, we’ll claim the most influential part of our education and upbringing was the contrast provided by a school year city life and a summertime northern life. We each grew up on the outskirts of a city where our wild space was defined by a path of a river cradled in a valley of Carolinian forest and wildflower fields.

Fall, winter and spring, this was the place where we searched for secret caves, climbed trees and made forts, and skied down forest trails. We waded the creeks upturning stones, had stick boat races, and started bird watching. When summer arrived, our parents took us north to cottages they had built. We swam, fished, canoed, camped, explored and learned the ways of the animals. We enjoyed a kind of freedom that combined with encouragement and courage from our parents, has been our deepest source of motivation to pursue our dreams.

Portrait of man in outdoor gear - Gary McGuffin

Gary McGuffin

Conservation Photographer and Explorer

Portrait of woman in outdoor gear - Joanie McGuffin

Joanie McGuffin

Explorer, Author, and Public Speaker.

Portrait of young girl and dog outdoors - Sila and Luna McGuffin

Sila and Luna

Sila loves Life, Friends, and Sports. Luna loves Trails and Winter!

Joanie’s Muskoka summer adventures canoeing with her family on Lake Joseph.

There are many beginnings to a story. We’ll begin our story with our parents because they saw Nature as our finest teacher, our healthiest playground and our most trustworthy Companion. Rachel Carson once said “Every child needs one caring guide into Nature”. Gary’s Mom and Dad grew up on farms outside of London Ontario. They shared a love of hunting, fishing, paddling and exploring the North —Georgian Bay, Temagami, northern Saskatchewan. When Gary was born they took him everywhere with them. My parents, British born, met at Jasper Park Lodge in the Rockies. Their love of Canada’s wilderness brought them together and has held them together for 60 years. I grew up in a household where composting, recycling and growing your own food were second nature long before anyone even thought about such things. During early childhood, both our parents built cottages –for Gary it was Temagami’s Rabbit Lake and for me Muskoka’s Lake Joseph. We each lived in two worlds—the urban and wilderness. Gary in London and Temagami, myself in Thornhill and Muskoka. Our favourite was summertime– climbing trees, running through woods, paddling along lakeshores, hanging out under night skies to watch stars. Summer = swimming, paddling, sailing, fishing.



We loved the other seasons, too. Spring was maple sugaring, birdwatching. Fall was bicycling, grouse hunting. Winter was cross-country skiing, tobogganing, skating. And our parents did these things with us.

Once finished high school and thinking of our futures, we were wondering “How do I make a living in the outdoors?” From the time Gary started reading National Geographic stories of world travellers, he began imagining a profession as an adventurer and photographer. I had a notion that I could guide expeditions for wildlife biologists on their field trips to study polar bears and whooping cranes. When we met at Seneca College in 1979 enrolled in the two-year Outdoor Recreation Technology program, we were forging a path toward our dreams.

After year one, we were planning adventures together. While on a canoe trip down the Missinaibi River, Gary asked if I would like to hike the Appalachian Trail with him when we graduated.

Sila's First Canoe Trip - Age 2 weeks Temagami Ontario

Sila’s First Canoe Trip – Age 2 weeks Temagami Ontario

When I quickly responded with an enthusiastic “Sure, what is it… where is it?”, the answer “a 5-month, 2000-mile hiking trip through the Appalachian Mountains” didn’t deter me despite my limited experience —- one weekend backpacking trip in Algonquin Park. Our youthful enthusiasm and bliss propelled us forward through the years until 1999 when our daughter Sila was born. A whole new wonderful adventure! In her first few weeks, her cradle was the canoe. Enveloped in the gentle sound of water and wind in white pines, she slept soundly in the bow at my feet. At 18 months, her first steps were made at a run on a portage trail in Algonquin Park. At 3 years, during our 3-month Great Lakes Heritage Coast journey, she was riding the bow of our canoe, Mariah, as if it were a horse. Now she’s a fun-loving spirited teenager with dreams of her own adventurous life ahead.

Perhaps we’ve kept our life on a fairly good course for over 30 years together because we see it as a river run – catch the quiet eddies often, try to work like a team particularly in the difficult parts, but most of all, pay attention to the journey and enjoy the ride.


“Inspiring people to re-connect with the natural world.”

For over 30 years, we have been a voice for the landscapes we know and love, particularly Canada’s North, northern Ontario and the Lake Superior watershed. Human beings are a part of this landscape as they have been for thousands of years. We often depict human participants in our images, and our journey  stories aim to inspire people to want to go on their own self-propelled adventures whether for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks.  Humans are both problem and solution, and in our efforts to be part of the latter, we helped found the international land trust, the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy.  The broad mission of the Conservancy enables the organization to build a foundation for the future long-term health of the lake, its ecosystems and its people.

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