In one of those coincidences that flirt with fate, the winner of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s very first Camsell Medal, Dr. Keith Fraser, was the person responsible for getting Louise Maffett, one of this year’s two winners of the Camsell medal (Bruce Amos is the other), involved in the Society.
As Maffett tells it, she was fresh out of Ottawa’s Carleton University, where she graduated with an honours in geography, when she joined the Society on the advice of a professor.
“I recall well that one of my professors in my last year said, ‘OK now that you’re geographers one of the things you have to do is join the Canadian Association of Geographers and The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. So I duly did.”
Soon after, Maffett was asked by Dr. Keith Fraser to help organize the 1972 International Geographical Congress, a huge event that hasn’t been held in Canada since. After the conference Maffett began working for Canada Post, which is where Fraser again intervened more than a decade later. “Keith called me and said, ‘we’re looking for people who have a business background’ and would I be interested in joining the board. So I said, ‘yes, of course.’”
Beginning on various committees, Maffett eventually found herself on the executive committee as Vice President of the Society. In that role she was instrumental in finding publishing partners in Toronto, and wound up being offered the staff position of executive director of the Society
Maffett left Canada Post and came to the Society as fulltime staff in 1995, where she remained for 10 years as executive director.
Maffett, who has known each recipient of the medal and says she’s honoured to be counted among them, says that though she loves the magazine she’s most proud of the work the Society does in classrooms across Canada.