Laurie grew up in Scotland but since 1970 has made his home in the Canadian north. He lived on Baffin Island for 13 years where he learned the survival skills of the Inuit (Eskimos) and speaks their language and continues to live in the Northwest Territories. Since 1993 he has made over 100 ship based trips to Antarctica and about the same in the Arctic as an expedition leader and lecturer. Laurie has taken part in many outdoor adventures including skiing for 91 days from Russia to Canada through the Geographic North Pole, skiing and sled hauling to the South Pole, traversing the ice caps of Greenland, Baffin Island, and King George Island in Antarctica, and numerous other polar region expeditions.
As a runner he also goes to extremes, including having run 100 km in 8 hours, over 200 km in 24 hours, 600 km in 6 days, and 10 marathons in 10 days. He is also a mountaineer and has made a number of first ascents in the Arctic and more recently has climbed the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc in the Alps. Laurie has degrees in physical education, theology and anthropology, and an honorary Doctor of Laws.
He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Arctic Club, and in recognition of his international contribution the Canadian Government has honored Laurie with the Order of Canada.