About James R. Stevens
James R. Stevens M.A. is The North Writer and over the past 40 years has authored many enduring nonfiction books about life, culture, and history in northern Ontario.
James (or Jim, as most friends call him) was raised on a dairy farm near St. Marys, Ontario. A gifted hockey player, he left on a sports scholarship to Cornell University in 1960 - where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Arts in English History.
Following graduation in 1967, Jim took a high school counselor position in the gold-mining town of Red Lake, Ontario, about 535 kms northwest of Thunder Bay. Red Lake is where Jim witnessed the birth of the Aboriginal “Woodland” art movement, which is based on ancient Aboriginal pictographs and birch bark scrolls. It is also where Jim struck up friendships with famous Woodland artists Norval Morrisseau and Carl Ray - two artists he has written about.
Jim then moved to Thunder Bay and worked as an educator and counselor at Confederation College. This is where he became enchanted with the history, culture, and legends of the region, which soon became his subjects for his writing.
Jim is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada and has authored 15 books. Some of his books were in partnership with James Redsky, a Midewiwin Holyman; Chief Thomas Fiddler of Sandy Lake; Assiniboine Chief Dan Kennedy; and Woodland artists, Carl Ray and Roy Thomas. Jim is perhaps best known for one of his earliest books, Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree, which was written in collaboration with Carl Ray. Two of Jim’s books, Killing The Shamen and Angelique Abandoned, were funded by Telefilm Canada for dramatic movie release.
Jim has worked extensively in partnership with First Nations artists and elders to produce books for First Nations students who are attending colleges and universities. As an educator and school counsellor, he was motivated by the lack of appropriate reading material for students interested in Aboriginal history and culture.
“...many things interest me passionately; however, my bottom line is that a book of mine must have insight and have an enduring quality for readers. A good nonfiction book will be valuable long into the future,” says Jim.
Jim's books have been illustrated by such First Nations artists as Gelineau P. Fisher, Sam Ash, Levius Fiddler, Johnson Meekis, Noah Sainnawap, Douglas Kakekagumick, Candace Twance, and Cree Stevens.
His 2012 book Wild on the Superior Frontier: A Romance of Settler’s Lives 1845-1900 won the prestigious Gertrude H. Dyke Award for nonfiction.
“I enjoy researching and writing previously untouched northern topics,” says Jim. “With this approach most of my book adventures result in volumes that have enduring value. The Wild on the Superior Frontier volume is the first book, of hundreds written on Lake Superior, that treats the Great Lake as a frontier of western civilization.”
Jim’s 1971 book Sacred Legends, which was written with the late Cree artist Carl Ray, has been in print for over 40 years. Killing The Shamen, co-authored with the late Chief Thomas Fiddler, has had nine editions printed. Not many authors can claim this kind of longevity for their writing.
Over the years Jim has been a supportive patron to many Aboriginal artists. He is an avid art collector and authority on Woodland art. He also assisted Norval Morrisseau with his art sales, ensuring that Norval received well-deserved recognition for his original works. Today Jim continues to be called on to authenticate Morrisseau originals.
Jim currently lives just outside Thunder Bay with his wife Karen on the 'wild' north shore of Lake Superior.
For more information, please contact Jim:
James R. Stevens
1701 MacKenzie Beach Ave.
Shuniah, Ontario P7A 0T5