David Newland is a writer, musician and host with a passion for the Canadian experience. His current project is The Northwest Passage in Story and Song, a presentation & performance based on his travels to the Arctic as a Zodiac driver with Adventure Canada.

David Newland Northwest passage in Story and Song
Photo by Dan Roy Photography

In November of 2015, David was named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a distinction that reflects a lifelong engagement with landscape and story.

Born in Ottawa, raised on the shores of Georgian Bay near Parry Sound, David crisscrossed Canada and travelled the world before settling in Cobourg, Ontario.

Awarded a scholarship to Lester B. Pearson United World College at seventeen, David went on to study literature at McGill and graduated with distinction from Concordia University’s Fine Arts program, majoring in photography.

David funded his travels and education working as a waiter, house painter, factory worker, mason’s labourer, baby photographer and call centre manager, to name only a few of his various jobs. He spent six seasons planting trees in Northern Ontario, living in a tent in bush camps and witnessing first-hand the catastrophic destruction of the Boreal Forest.

David Newland
Photo: Meghan Sheffield

Among his many adventures, David built and lived in a cabin without electricity and running water on Nova Scotia’s North Mountain for more than a year. David spent four months living in a bamboo hut in a Costa Rican fishing village, journaling his experiences for two Ontario newspapers. He backpacked through India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala and Europe. In addition to travelling Canada and the US by bus, train, car, and plane dozens of times, David has hitchhiked through the Rockies three times (twice in February!), as well as thumbing his way from Toronto to Halifax, and from Florence, Italy, to Cardiff, Wales.

In 2002, David was a writer and web producer for Discovery Channel Canada following the Eco-Challenge in Fiji Islands. In 2005, he accompanied Valerie Pringle and the CTV travel team for 12 days from Toronto, to Vancouver, to Halifax, to Toronto by train, writing the theme song for Canada’s Greatest Ride along the way. In 2007, He travelled across Canada with Phil Keoghan of the Amazing Race as a multimedia producer.

David’s travels continue with voyages to remote wilderness destinations including the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sable Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and the Northwest Passage as a host, performer and Zodiac driver with Adventure Canada. In the past four years alone David has visited every province, as well as Nunavut and Labrador. In 2012 David hosted the 90 km Voyageur Folk Tour along the coast of Lake Superior by canoe. He has made two week-long visits to Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation, Northern Ontario, with ArtsCan Circle presenting music to students. In 2014 he toured homes and small venues across Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan with Home Routes; his upcoming Home Routes tour will take him to Southern BC in February 2017.

David is currently developing his musical presentation/performance, The Northwest Passage in Story and Song, to tour Canada-wide in 2017.

Photo by David Goodfellow
Photo by David Goodfellow

As a singer, story-teller and poet, David Newland is whimsical and poignant. His songwriting constantly returns to nature, and is infused with a deep appreciation for Canada’s natural beauty. His stage patter is unique: random, funny, and profound — sometimes in a single spontaneous sentence. He frequently performs selections of ‘Zen Canadiana’ poetry as spoken word pieces.

David Newland’s latest album, Give It A Whirl, has been played on CBC and on roots radio shows from coast to coast.

Sun Times August 14th,2015-cutWidely appreciated as an emcee, David Newland began his hosting career with a radio show on CKDU Halifax, and was quickly called upon to host festivals and events. He has been the MC for numerous festivals, including Summerfolk, Mariposa, and Lunenburg Folk Harbour, as well as the Gordon Lightfoot revue show The Way We Feel, Johnny Cash tribute Till Things Are Brighter, and Pete Seeger tribute For The Love of Pete.

David Newland produced nearly 100 ‘Jay’s Journal’ segments for Daily Planet on Discovery Channel Canada. He co-hosted and produced Jay Ingram’s Theatre of the Mind podcast. He worked as web producer and photographer for the Gill Deacon show on CBC TV. David was the manager of DiscoveryChannel.ca, editor-in-chief at Canoe.ca, the founding editor of Roots Music Canada, and a contributing writer and web editor for Macleans.ca.

David Newland by Michelle Valberg
Photo by Michelle Valberg

David Newland has published nearly a thousand blog posts and his articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He was shortlisted for a Writer’s Union of Canada short story award, and contributed to a nomination for Canoe and two Gold Medals for Macleans.ca in the Canadian Online Publishing awards.

David Newland has been interviewed or featured on CBC radio’s Tapestry, DNTO, PM Drive, Fresh Air, Sunday Morning and Cross Country Checkup among many other media appearances.

In October of 2011 David was awarded a Writers’ Works in Progress grant from the Ontario Arts Council to work on his first novel.
David Newland writes a regular column in The Link, an arts and entertainment quarterly, and occasional blog posts about his travels for AdventureCanada.com.

Read David’s personal blog, about life as a husband, father of three, artist, canoeist, bumbling handyman and spiritual seeker here.