Literary icon leaves legacy

Famed author and activist Farley Mowat dies at 92 years old

Mowat’s famous book Never Cry Wolf
Mowat’s famous book Never Cry Wolf

Canadian author, environmentalist, and activist Farley Mowat passed away on May 6 at the age of 92.

The famed author was born in Belleville, Ont. in 1921 and grew up in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, later moving to Saskatoon. Later in his life, Mowat served in World War II, after which he studied biology at the University of Toronto.

Many of the author’s acclaimed works were inspired by his experiences travelling to Northern Canada. His first book, People of the Deer, written in 1952, was based on Mowat’s outraged views on the treatment of the Inuit residing in Northern Canada. The book became popular, turning Mowat into a controversial figure, as he wrote about circumstances that normally might have been overlooked at that time in Canada.

The author went on to write about a variety of circumstances in Northern Canada. He was versatile, writing adventure stories, as well as stories of then-unexplored parts of the Northern Canadian culture.

Despite the controversy that the author’s writings caused, he wrote as he knew how to and stayed true to what he believed in. He was a huge advocate for the maintenance of Canadian wilderness and an activist for animal rights, and this showed through his books, like the work Never Cry Wolf.

Mowat was known for straddling the line between fact and fiction, and this was the cause of many criticisms towards him. “My métier lay somewhere in between what was then a grey void between fact and fiction,” Mowat once said in an interview.

It’s clear the author didn’t ever feel the need to sugar-coat the many basic truths of life to people in those days. It’s part of the reason as to why he is held as one of the more complex Canadian authors.

Although the author was seen to have stretched the truth in many of his works, that was what made them exciting and it made people listen to what he was actually trying to say. If he hadn’t stretched the truth at times or added elements of fiction to make things more exciting, would people have even cared at all?

The answer isn’t black and white. Mowat knew what he wanted to do with his writing: get the message across, and that was what happened. People got the message, and whether they interpreted it positively or negatively wasn’t of Mowat’s concern.

Mowat wrote over two dozen books before he passed. He was also the recipient of over 10 awards and honours, the most notable being the award for best short story for his piece Eskimo Spring, and the Author’s Award for Sea of Slaughter in 1985, among others.

The acclaimed author changed Canadian writing through his unique approach to writing and his adamant views on environmental, animal, and human rights issues.

Although Mowat’s life has ended, the author’s legacy will carry on and continue to impact the lives of aspiring authors everywhere.


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