Press Release: ECTA President Inducted to RCGS College of Fellows

Spurwink Island Path

Gord Follett

Nov 29, 2023


ECTA President Inducted to Royal Canadian Geographical Society College of Fellows
Press Release: For Immediate Release

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, November 29, 2023 – The East Coast Trail Association is pleased and proud to announce that Randy Murphy, ECTA President, has been inducted into the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows.  The induction ceremony occurred in Ottawa on November 15, 2023, at RCGS’s HQ at 50 Sussex Drive.

Randy formally welcomed into the RCGS by the Honorable Lois Mitchell and Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Randy was recognized and inducted into the RCGS College of Fellows for his outstanding achievements as the President of the East Coast Trail Association. Randy has worked as a volunteer with the Association for the past 28 ½ years.  He joined the Board of Directors in May 1995 and has served as President & CEO since May 1996.  Randy has led and managed the ECT from a working concept through the development and delivery of an internationally recognized destination, tourism, and recreational product for this province. Randy’s vision has always focused on taking what is best about this province and making it the Trail’s competitive advantage:  experiencing and connecting with untouched natural surroundings, genuine communities, colourful culture, and history, preserving, and sharing natural areas.  The East Coast Trail, viewed by many in 1994 as “the impossible dream”, has become a world-class attraction and strategic product for the province, generating significant economic, social, and environmental value. The media response from around the world has been phenomenal, and hikers are coming here from all over the globe. The National Geographic Traveler experts ranked the Avalon’s coastline, the home of the ECT, as #1 in the world and extolled the region’s “stunning natural and cultural integrity and unspoiled scenery,” adding that it is “one of the world’s best-kept tourism secrets.”

Randy Murphy, ECTA President: “I am very pleased and grateful to be recognized and inducted into the RCGS’s College of Fellows. I have had the honour and privilege of working with a wonderful team of skilled and dedicated volunteers, along with the support and commitment of our governments, businesses, community partners, staff, and members. Together, we delivered the “impossible dream.”  The RCGS’s validation of this accomplishment and the value the ECT is adding to this province and country will serve us well as we seek dream #2, “sustainable prosperity.”   I am currently working with our Board and our stakeholders to seek and achieve the long-term sustainability of the Trail and the Association. My objective is to ensure the Trail continues to enrich the lives of our residents and our rural communities for many generations to come and inspire the world to explore and love the Newfoundland great outdoors.”

John H. Phillips, trail enthusiast: “Randy Murphy’s recent induction into the RCGS’s College of Fellows importantly signifies national recognition of Randy’s work over the decades in leading the creation, expansion and maintenance of Newfoundland & Labrador’s East Coast Trail as a Provincial treasure. His induction is one more important step toward the celebration of the Trail across Canada and around the world. Randy’s vision and his leadership of many, many volunteers over the years together more than qualify and demonstrate why he was awarded this privilege and honour by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. We all congratulate Randy.”

Please join us in our heartfelt congratulations to Randy for his commitment, dedication, determination, and passion for the East Coast Trail, combined with his love of this province and especially rural NL.


RCGS Class of 2023. Photo by Ben Powless

The RCGS Class of 2023

This year, the RCGS was proud to welcome 61 distinguished individuals, from across Canada, into the College of Fellows. Fellows are individuals who have distinguished themselves by their contribution to scientific knowledge, teaching, academia, community service and the arts, as well as, individuals in the public sector, military, business and the professions. Individuals who are seen as leaders in their respective fields, who through their efforts are making Canada better known to Canadians and the world. The Society currently has over 1,400 Fellows.

The RCGS 2023 Gala
It was a night both moving and motivating as hundreds of Fellows and friends of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society gathered at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for the 94th annual Geographica Dinner (formerly the College of Fellows Annual Dinner) on Nov. 15.

RCGS Gala 2023. Photo by Ben Powless

Notable guests included the Honourable Lois Mitchell, former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and President of the Society; Ambassadors Alfredo Martínez Serrano of Spain, Hanne Fugl Eskjaer of Denmark and Sylvia Meier-Kajbic of Austria; Nellie Kusugak, former Commissioner of Nunavut and Society Governor; Deputy British High Commissioner David Prodger; Chief Perry Bellegarde, the Society’s Honorary President; Chief Wilton Littlechild; Chief Wilson Bearhead and journalist Evan Solomon, who emceed a portion of the evening’s events.  And most importantly, the annual dinner is an opportunity to welcome and celebrate the newest members invested into the College of Fellows.

About the Royal Canadian Geographic Society (RCGS)
Founded in 1929, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society is a non-partisan Canadian charity, dedicated to championing a deeper knowledge and appreciation of Canada’s immense geography. The Society’s vision is to help Canadians chart a successful future by fostering a greater understanding of Canada’s geography — its diverse human and physical landscapes — as well as the changes affecting its people and the environment. Through this understanding, the Society seeks to help Canadians share and grow their sense of pride in the size and scope of their country’s geography, a unifying force in divisive times. Best known for its Canadian Geographic magazine, the Society also supports Canadian geographical expeditions and provides grants and scholarships for cutting-edge geographical research, as well as building and supporting geographic education across the country.

RCGS College of Fellows

Canada itself, diverse in geographical regions and communities, is reflected in the RCGS’s College of Fellows. So, too, have the Fellows always embodied the longstanding values and tenets of the Society: the determination to build, courage to explore and steadfast love of country.

The College, the voting body of the Society, elects the President and other members of the Board of Governors, as well as new Fellows. As ever, the Society’s Fellows work determinedly to expand geographical knowledge and literacy across the nation.

The College of Fellows is comprised entirely of volunteers, and membership is an honour and a privilege and includes many esteemed and accomplished Canadians, as noted in the image “Who You’re Joining.”  Fellows are expected to champion the non-partisan mission of the Society – to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world.

About the East Coast Trail Association
The East Coast Trail is a 336 km market-ready, pedestrian coastal trail that runs along the eastern edge of the Avalon Peninsula between Topsail Beach and Cappahayden.  The East Coast Trail Association is a full-time, not-for-profit business, registered charity, membership-based, and volunteer managed with the mandate to develop, maintain, and protect the trail.

A few decades ago, on the edge of Newfoundland, a group of like-minded people saw an opportunity – the chance to bring people and communities together. Where others saw wilderness, we saw wellbeing, and where others heard silence, we heard the stories. We dreamt of the woods, the coastline, and the communities as a place for connection, a place to be proud of, a place where everyone becomes part of a connected community, and it’s safe to say our dream has come true.  Watch Our Story here.

We exist to inspire the world to explore the great Newfoundland outdoors, where through experience, people learn to love and respect the natural beauty of our province so that, together, we can protect and preserve our coastline for future generations to enjoy, as we do today. | @eastcoasttrail

To arrange an interview, please contact:
Julia Penney
Business Manager, ECTA
(t) 709-738-4453 (c) 709-325-7284