Phil was born in London, England in 1951, but within six months he was on his first adventure ship, a luxury liner bound for Canada. Even as a young boy living in freshly built suburbs on the edge of Ottawa, he was a wanderer, often to be found in the adjacent farm fields. A decade later his family returned to Liverpool, but he came back to Ottawa in 1978 and embarked on a career as a writer and a performing songwriter.
Phil’s adventures in writing and music ran parallel. His musical career, both as solo artist and as founder of the quartet Riverbend, has played on over forty years, from busking in the Byward Market in Ottawa, Ontario to playing for Adventure Canada guests onboard.
In the writing trade, he became an author in 1991, when he published Fields of Vision: A Journey to Canada's Family Farms, a project that took him from the farm furthest east in Canada—just outside St. John’s, Newfoundland—all the way to the farm furthest west, a dozen kilometres north of Dawson City, Yukon.
He was later asked to write a book on the Saint Lawrence River, which became River Song: Sailing the History of the St. Lawrence. His greatest adventure in the writing of that book was sailing the length of the Saint Lawrence on a replica two-masted, nineteenth-century schooner (and diving several wrecks along the way).
Three of his books have achieved bestseller status, and in between writing books, Phil also wrote for magazines and newspapers, including for National Geographic Traveller, Equinox, Canadian Geographic, and many others.
A side effect of writing about the Canadian landscape, its history, and those who inhabit it is Phil’s career as a lecturer and speaker of Canadian history. This has taken Phil across the country, into universities, on CBC radio, and into the ship's lounge of Adventure Canada expeditions.