Farley Mowat, Canadian legend and author, defender of the wilderness and champion of wildlife, has come to an end at the age of 92. The fabled author left this earth just a few days before he would have turned 93 years old, at his home in Port Hope, Ontario. He is survived by his second wife Claire, and his two sons, Robert and David.
Born May 12, 1921 in Belleville, Ontario, Mowat was the child of a librarian and grew up in Windsor, Ontario and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As a child, he was consumed with nature and dedicated his teen years to writing about it, starting a magazine he called Nature Lore, and writing a column for the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
Farley Mowat was a well-known environmentalist, activist, adventurer and prolific writer whose written words had captured Canada’s landscape far better than any other writer. His more than 40 non-fiction works and novels have been translated into over 20 languages around the world. He was outspoken concerning many social and environmental issues and never shied away from controversy. The legend that will become Farley Mowat is starting to take shape without a single thought as to how it will come to an end.
He insisted that how Canada treated its aboriginals was abominable, and that the country’s seal hunt was the most scandalous trespass against the living world that is taking place in this day and age. He also had stated that in his view, hunts were merely the symbolism of the infinite destruction humans have visited upon the natural world.
An officer who served in World War II, Mowat wrote People of the Deer, his first book, in 1952. People of the Deer put into the public’s mind the woes of the Inuit peoples of Canada’s Arctic, who were facing starvation and government callousness towards the situation. After that book had sparked a rash of interest in Canada’s North, Farley Mowat followed up with Never Cry Wolf, debuting in 1963. That book was destined to become a legend in its own right and which may have sparked an end to Farley Mowat as a credible nature observer. The book was later made into a movie.
Never Cry Wolf tried to improve the long-held image of the wolf as a dangerous killing machine that was solely responsible for the lessening of the caribou populations in the north of Canada. However, a lot of people believed that the work was based on fact when it was actually a work of fiction, and some still say to this day that Mowat had gotten his facts wrong about wolves in general.
Another well-known work by Farley Mowat, the legend, is Lost in the Barrens; a story about a Canadian orphan and a Cree boys adventures in the arctic that comes to a feverish end. Mowat believed that he was very lucky to have been able to do the two things he most loved in life; helping nature and writing, although he had admitted that all he wanted to write about was nature. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, published in 1957, was his try at a children’s book, and has been described as one of the best kids’ books of all time.
Farley was awarded the Order of Canada in 1981 and was also a friend of Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, and a lover of nature himself and a hard worker at trying to shrink the differences between what was seen as distinct class separations. Justin Trudeau, Pierre’s son and the head of Canada’s opposition Liberal Party of today, has said that Mowat was an inspiration to people of his generation and that he would be greatly missed. Farley Mowat, the legend, led an extraordinary life which has come to an end, but his passion for nature and his love of the written word will continue to inspire others in the future.
By Korrey Laderoute