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Canadian national treasure Farley Mowat dies at 92
May 7, 2014 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Author, environmentalist, and activist Farley Mowat, OC, died Tuesday at his home in Port Hope, Ontario, six days short of his 93rd birthday.

Few Canadians reach adulthood without reading at least one of Mowat's 40-odd memoirs, adventure books, or novels. His most famous book is likely Never Cry Wolf, but I can never forget his memoir of his experiences during World War II, And No Birds Sang or his ethnography of the Ihalmiut people, People of the Deer (excerpts here).

Lengthy eulogies from CBC, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the NP tell parts of his story. Interviews from 2010 and 2012 show that his wit was untarnished. A great Canadian.
posted by gingerest (82 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by ldthomps at 6:32 PM on May 7


RIP, MR. Mowat. And here's hoping mice aren't on the heavenly buffet.
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


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posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:35 PM on May 7


Made my acquaintance with his work as a kid with The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and fell in love with his work ever since...a true story-teller...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:36 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


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posted by Behemoth at 6:37 PM on May 7


A true giant of Canadian literature. RIP.
posted by GuyZero at 6:37 PM on May 7


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posted by parki at 6:40 PM on May 7


So long, Varley Monfat.
posted by islander at 6:41 PM on May 7


A Whale for the Killing was one of the seminal reads of my youth.

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posted by Danf at 6:43 PM on May 7


I really loved No Man's River. He lived a long and interesting life. RIP
posted by readery at 6:45 PM on May 7


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posted by Kevin Street at 6:45 PM on May 7


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posted by eclectist at 6:47 PM on May 7


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posted by oneironaut at 6:48 PM on May 7


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posted by Wretch729 at 6:50 PM on May 7


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posted by hydrobatidae at 6:54 PM on May 7


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posted by platypus of the universe at 6:54 PM on May 7


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posted by Going To Maine at 6:56 PM on May 7


Proof that the good don't always die young. He had a good long run.
posted by ardgedee at 6:56 PM on May 7


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last more or less conscious thing my dad did was enjoy a Farley Mowat story.
posted by philip-random at 6:57 PM on May 7


From the NFB: Ten Million Books - An introduction to Farley Mowat
posted by Going To Maine at 6:59 PM on May 7


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posted by oulipian at 6:59 PM on May 7


And here's hoping mice aren't on the heavenly buffet.

As Mowatt might have pointed out, it wouldn't be heaven for wolves if there weren't mice to eat.

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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:59 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


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posted by Mitheral at 7:00 PM on May 7


The Dog Who Wouldn't Be was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. A less-well-known book I also loved was The Boat Who Wouldn't Float--a great book for anyone who has ever messed about on boats, and knows how ardently they all want to break your heart.
posted by yoink at 7:01 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


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posted by Flashman at 7:04 PM on May 7


The Dog Who Wouldn't Be.
Owls in the Family.
Lost in the Barrens.
Curse of the Viking Grave.
Never Cry Wolf.


These were books that were a big part of my childhood and early adolescence. For the enjoyment and thoughtfulness, thank you.


“It is to this new-found resolution to reassert our indivisibility with life, to recognize the obligations incumbent upon us as the most powerful and deadly species ever to exist, and to begin making amends for the havoc we have wrought, that my own hopes for a revival and continuance of life on earth now turn. If we persevere in this new way we may succeed in making man humane ... at last.”
― Farley Mowat



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posted by nubs at 7:04 PM on May 7


I was not a fan of most of his stuff but "Virunga" was a terrific book. It's the story of Dian Fossey told through a mix of her own journals and Mowat's words using different typefaces for each. The book is the basis for the Sigourney Weaver film "Gorillas in the Mist. You can see Fossey losing touch with reality as the poaching picks up. Really great read. Thanks Farley.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:07 PM on May 7


A fine storyteller, and a good man.
posted by HuronBob at 7:08 PM on May 7


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posted by Celsius1414 at 7:12 PM on May 7


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posted by clockbound at 7:19 PM on May 7


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posted by jim in austin at 7:20 PM on May 7


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posted by Hutch at 7:29 PM on May 7


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posted by pt68 at 7:32 PM on May 7


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posted by humanfont at 7:34 PM on May 7


He made me want an owl so badly when I was a kid. I think I had every single one of his books. No - have - there’s a copy of The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float on the bedside table right now, I just dug it out a couple of weeks ago for Himself to read.

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posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 7:43 PM on May 7


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posted by suelac at 7:48 PM on May 7


I wonder how long he kept up with wolf nap regimen?

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posted by ignignokt at 7:53 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lynsey at 7:58 PM on May 7


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life is funny, I read his works voraciously when I was in my early teens, then... when I was in my late teens, I took a driving job doing rural paper delivery for the Toronto Star... He was my best customer, I only met him 2-3 times, he was always friendly, gracious and simply amazing.
posted by jkaczor at 8:01 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


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posted by tychotesla at 8:15 PM on May 7


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posted by koucha at 8:21 PM on May 7


Godspeed, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:23 PM on May 7


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posted by skycrashesdown at 8:28 PM on May 7


Pretty sure you aren't allowed to call yourself Canadian unless you had to read Owls in the Family and Never Cry Wolf in grades 5 and 6, respectively.
Seems weird that he won't be around anymore; he's just always been part of the fabric of this place, like milk in bags, boring CBC shows and old Canadian Tire money forgotten in a drawer.
R.I.P. Farley.
posted by chococat at 8:33 PM on May 7


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Owls In The Family was a beloved part of my (downunder) childhood as well.
posted by Catch at 8:36 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Never Cry Wolf was adapted into a 1983 film by Walt Disney Pictures which amazingly & mind-bogglingly not only doesn't suck, but is actually quite brilliant and profound.
posted by ovvl at 8:38 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I just came back from a day of catching salamanders, so that you understand me when I say that this man was a huge hero of mine. It's a sad, sad thing that he has died, but really the world lost something as soon as Farley grew too old to keep snakes under his bed (assuming he ever did!) Never before or since has Saskatoon, Saskatchewan sounded like such an exciting place for a child to live. I can't wait to introduce the children in my life to his books, and try to kindle in them some of his love for things that crawl and swim and fly. What a gift he was to us.
posted by agentofselection at 8:38 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


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posted by thandal at 8:39 PM on May 7


As it Happens interviewed Elizabeth May tonight: she was a close friend of his, he stood as godfather to her child, and she had a series of quite lovely, personal stories about him. He was writing, right up to the end, and she was looking forward to calling him on Monday and wishing him a happy 93rd birthday.

One of those interviews that makes you think that both the interview subject and the interviewee are very cool people that you'd like to know.
posted by jrochest at 8:51 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


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posted by Big_B at 8:53 PM on May 7


“You never know when the devil might come calling.”
― Farley Mowat

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posted by BlueHorse at 9:26 PM on May 7


Oh, damn. But what a life, and what contributions he made to ours.

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posted by rtha at 9:36 PM on May 7


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posted by Foosnark at 9:38 PM on May 7


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posted by biddeford at 9:42 PM on May 7


In these not so great times in this country of ours he was a lovely, constant reminder of the best that we had to offer, and the best that we can be.

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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:11 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


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posted by jabo at 10:14 PM on May 7


Had no idea he was so old. One of those writers I was forced toread in elementary school who, despite my innate independence and rebelliousness, got under my skin and shaped who I am today. Can't wait to force my kids to read Never Cry Wolf.

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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:40 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Never Cry Wolf was adapted into a 1983 film by Walt Disney Pictures which amazingly & mind-bogglingly not only doesn't suck, but is actually quite brilliant and profound.

And one of the few Disney movies to feature full frontal male nudity.

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posted by radwolf76 at 10:55 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


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posted by aroweofshale at 11:01 PM on May 7


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:11 PM on May 7


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posted by Gotanda at 11:15 PM on May 7


Never Cry Wolf was adapted into a 1983 film by Walt Disney Pictures which amazingly & mind-bogglingly not only doesn't suck, but is actually quite brilliant and profound.

It left a big mark on my conciousness.
posted by PenDevil at 12:18 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


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posted by From Bklyn at 2:15 AM on May 8


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There may be more famous works by Farley Mowat, but the two stories that jump to mind on his passing are:

- In the adventure fiction realm, you could do a lot worse than to encourage your kids to read Lost In The Barrens

- The Snow Walker, the film version of his short story Walk Well, My Brother
posted by fairmettle at 2:55 AM on May 8


I'm another one Farley Mowat sucked in early with The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and The Boat That Wouldn't Float, then worked my way through all his other writings as I grew up.... Mr. Mowat, for the hours of pleasure you gave me as a kid, and the hours of thinking you still make me do: thank you.
posted by easily confused at 5:10 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


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posted by postcommunism at 5:36 AM on May 8


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posted by edmcbride at 5:45 AM on May 8


Let's not forget the autobiographical childrens book Owls in the Family and the autobiographical semi-Soviet-apologist travel journal the Siberians! Such a good storyteller!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:01 AM on May 8


Oh, now I am sad. He was a good one.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:26 AM on May 8


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posted by Brodiggitty at 6:32 AM on May 8


I was introduced to the world of Farley Mowat by The Dog Who Wouldn't Be.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:45 AM on May 8


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> Made my acquaintance with his work as a kid with The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and fell
> in love with his work ever since...a true story-teller...

Me too. First time I knew that a book could make you laugh to hard you'd end in a choking and gasping episode.

Though he's been gone for a while
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for Mutt also.
posted by jfuller at 6:58 AM on May 8


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I'm suddenly reliving all my English classes in my mid-sized Ontario hometown.
posted by LMGM at 7:07 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure you aren't allowed to call yourself Canadian unless you had to read Owls in the Family and Never Cry Wolf in grades 5 and 6, respectively.

I'm Canadian. Haven't read a single line of his work. Knew of him of course, just like I know of Atwood, Findley, and Monroe (all of whom I have read). But I know him more for some sort of flat earth thing I can only vaguely recall.
posted by juiceCake at 9:03 AM on May 8


We certainly read Never Cry Wolf in 6th grade, but in 5th grade my teacher went for sci-fi Crisis on Conshelf 10 by Monica Hughes. I remember very little of it because it was a long time ago, but the "scatology" chapter of Never Cry Wolf had the grade 6 boys in stitches.

Good run, Mr Mowatt

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posted by Hoopo at 10:20 AM on May 8


in 5th grade my teacher went for sci-fi Crisis on Conshelf 10 by Monica Hughes

WOAH I'm getting lightheaded from the flashbacks here. They actually assigned that as a school book? I felt like I had the only copy in the world.

But I know him more for some sort of flat earth thing I can only vaguely recall.

Well I guess you're still Canadian. But seriously, you should read one of his books. He's much more down-to-earth versus Atwood, Findley or Monroe. A very different kind of author. Not that there's anything wrong with any of them, but I think Mowat has a much broader appeal. Really, give him a try.
posted by GuyZero at 10:34 AM on May 8


I felt like I had the only copy in the world.

I read the third one! And Never Cry Wolf, which was awesome. That book was my first introduction to the idea that animals think, but in a different way than people, with different concerns.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:24 AM on May 8


Loved his books as a kid and as an adult. Sharing them with my kids was such fun as well.
posted by leslies at 11:57 AM on May 8


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posted by zaelic at 1:19 PM on May 8


Lost in the Barrens was the first book in my life that I could not put down. Bless my Mother for giving me the novel, and for letting me stay up long past midnight, on a school night, as I tore through the pages to the end. And bless Mr. Mowat for that gateway drug to a lifelong addiction to reading.

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posted by Kabanos at 2:17 PM on May 8


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posted by Jughead at 8:10 AM on May 9


Just saw what had become of the Sea Shepherd ship named after him the other day.
I thought that was sad (having been on it for a while), but this is even sadder.
posted by whatgorilla at 8:17 AM on May 9


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