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(2012 - Fall Issue)


Now that he has retired from his high-profile career as MP for Kingston and the Islands and his long-standing role as Speaker of the House of Commons (the longest tenure in Canadian history, in fact), Peter Milliken is able to turn his attention toward the business of a little recreational travel and enjoyment of time away from the public spotlight.

Milliken is renowned for his encyclopedicknowledge of parliamentary procedure (it’s said that he subscribed to Hansard as a teenager, and as Speaker he was called upon to break more tie votes than any other in Canadian history). It would be an understatement to say that reading still tops his list of enjoyable activities. Luckily, reading and travel . . . a good fit.

At His Fingertips

“I’m a big reader and travelling tends to be a time when I can catch up on reading. I usually take my iPad and have reading material on that. I enjoy both books and magazines. On short train trips I am usually catching up on magazines.

“Reading for pleasure is usually non-fiction—biographies, political topics.”

In his carry-on? A shaving kit—always. But forget an array of the latest in electronic gadgets. For Milliken, being unplugged from an electronic leash never presents a problem.

“When I was an MP and Speaker of the House I used to take a BlackBerry everywhere, but I don’t need to anymore. I may take an iPad to get emails while I am on the road but on holiday I usually leave my computer at home. I don’t mind being unplugged—it can be nice on a trip and I’m not worried about being disconnected.”

Dream Trips

The other interesting change that retirement brings is the ability to just book and go. In early 2012, Milliken joined a Queen’s University alumni trip to Ecuador and Peru, including a five-day stop in the Galapagos Islands, crossing that destination off his dream trip list.

Milliken may have commanded a seat at the head of the House of Commons, but there’s another seat—somewhat more informal—where he is also comfortable. The Kingston-native is a whitewater canoeist who has travelled across the country paddling some of the world’s most challenging wilderness routes: the Class IV rapids of the Nahanni, Coppermine in the Northwest Territories and the steep-gradient rapids of the Dumoine River in western Québec.

And this setting—water-drenched with the spray of the waves—suits Milliken just fine. There’s no need for an electronic go-to gadget and a dry bag can keep the pages of his old-fashioned book safe and dry.

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