As the 87-year-old prepares to hand over his staff to his apprentice, he remembers his time in Canada and the “madness” of navigating the tundra without radar.
“It’s so crazy,” he laughed in a recent New Zealand phone interview.
“I try to navigate using a sextant, a bubble sextant, flying over a territory where there are no maps because it is the tundra and the floods change the shape of the lakes… C ‘ was absolutely ridiculous. But I loved doing it. I think it was a great lesson. ”
As New Zealand’s official wizard, he said he guides people’s thinking by opening their minds to different points of view with an element of fun.
He receives an annual remuneration of CAN $ 14,000 from Christchurch City Council.
He delivers speeches in the city’s cathedral square using an approach that he says is similar to Cicero’s oratory style in ancient Rome on topics ranging from free speech in universities to patriarchy.
“I have never claimed that what I am saying was right or wrong. Do you like the speech? Do you like what I’m saying? Do you like to think about these things, to play with words?
Landed in Canada by chance
He described himself more as Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings” or the “very famous” English sorcerer John Dee of the Elizabethan period than as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books.
He loves magic.
“Magic is not religion. It is not science. It’s a mixture of all kinds of things. ”
Channell, who also goes by Jack but prefers to be called The Wizard, landed in Canada because of his last name.
Its instructors announced that the top 20 names on a list were going to Canada to become sailors. He was near the top of the alphabetical list because his name was Channell.
After World War II England had strict rationing due to food shortages, but there was plenty to eat in Manitoba, where he found the climate “very strange”.
“Extremely cold and extremely hot. Just snow and snow and snow. And mosquitoes in summer. ”
There was also a group of French Navy sailors sharing the barracks.
“Now you can only get away from the sea in Winnipeg,” he said between bursts of laughter.
“So the fact that they were there was very strange. “
Trips to London, Winnipeg, Edmonton
In Portage la Prairie, he remembers visiting record stores.
“I really like classical music,” he says. “It was pretty good. For a 19-year-old, it was pretty exciting. ”
What also stands out is an “absolutely breathtaking” train trip from London, Ontario to Winnipeg.
“I can never forget this amazing trip with all this snow. Unbelievable. ”
The Wizard’s Adventures also included hitchhiking by plane across North America, with stops in Edmonton and Florida before arriving in California.
Some of the flights he hitchhiked across the continent were “huge” cargo planes with just him in the hold.
“It was like time traveling or like Dr. Who or one of those things in this time machine. “