We have lost one of the great voices for the natural environment, and for the animals and native peoples who cannot thrive without the wilderness. Farley Mowat, a Canadian, a curmudgeon, a wildlife biologist--and a prolific writer of unforgettable tales from the-way-out-back, died last week a few days shy of his 93rd birthday. We owe him so much.
The New York Times obit covers the highlights:
But I want to persuade at least some of you Kossacks to revisit this remarkable man and his work and his advocacy for social and environmental justice. . . or discover him before another precious minute goes by.
Haven't read it? Go read it right now! Or at least see the hilarious movie based on it.
He annoyed national governments. Canada for sure, but the US especially. As The New York recalled:
Mr. Mowat had a dim view of the United States, one that did not improve when he was turned away from the border in 1985 under a now-defunct law banning political subversives. In a subsequent book, Mr. Mowat said he had been blacklisted for once telling a newspaper that he had fired his rifle at American bombers carrying nuclear weapons as they flew thousands of feet above Canada.And, as National Public Radio reports:
Besides being a best-selling author and "one of the elder statesmen of Canadian literature," the Globe and Mail describes Mowat as "a trickster, a ferocious imp with a silver pen, an ardent environmentalist who opened up the idea of the North to curious southerners, a public clown who hid his shyness behind flamboyant rum-swigging and kilt-flipping, and a passionate polemicist who blurred the lines between fiction and facts to dramatize his cause. "
He loved animals, wild and domesticated. And seemed to have a special place in his huge heart for wolves:
He liked people OK, but, as the CBC noted http://www.cbc.ca/...
He was also a staunch defender of the environment. He once said he preferred to write in Cape Breton because his most frequent encounters there were with non-humans, and so he didn't have to apologize on behalf of his species quite so often.He also had an affinity for the sea, as chronicled in rip-snorting fashion in:
But truly a cranky, funny, wise and compassionate voice echoing into the 21st Century.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Mowat.