Food and Nutrition
Peace and Nonviolence
Trees and Forests
From the 1981 film Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat
National Film Board of
For many years, Farley Mowat has written of the lands, seas and peoples of the Far
North with humor, understanding and compassion. Born in Belleville, Ontario in 1921, Mowat
grew up in Belleville, Trenton, Windsor, Saskatoon, Toronto and Richmond Hill as his librarian
father moved a household that included a miniature menagerie around the country. During World
War II Mowat served in the army, entering as a private and emerging with the rank of captain.
Following his discharge, Mowat renewed his interest in the Canadian Arctic, an area he had
first visited as a young man with an ornithologist uncle. He began writing for his living
in 1949 after spending two years in the Arctic. His first novel, People
of the Deer, published in 1952, described the plight of the Ihalmiut, inland Eskimos
of Keewatin District in the Northwest Territories. A profoundly moving story, People
of the Deer made Mowat a literary celebrity and contributed to a shift in the Canadian
government's Inuit policy: the government began shipping meat and dry goods to a people they
previously denied existed. In 1963, Mowat wrote an account of his experiences in the Canadian
Arctic with Arctic wolves entitled Never Cry Wolf. The book was instrumental in
changing popular attitudes about wolves.
Mowat published a denunciation of "the destruction of animal life in the north Atlantic" entitled Sea
of Slaughter in 1984. In 1985, as a part of the promotional tour for this book, Mowat
accepted an invitation to speak in California. However, U.S. customs officials in Toronto
denied Mowat entry to the United States. Mowat documented the reasons why he was refused
entry to the United States in his 1985 book, My Discovery of America.
Mowat has said of himself, "I am a Northern Man . . . I like to think I am a reincarnation
of the Norse saga men and, like them, my chief concern is with the tales of men, and other
animals, living under conditions of natural adversity." Mowat was made an Officer of the
Order of Canada in 1981. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was
named in his honour.
Farley Mowat's 38 books have been published in 24 languages and have sold more than 14 million
copies throughout the world. His books include:
- The People of the Deer
- The Desperate People
- Never Cry Wolf
- Lost in the Barrens
- Sea of Slaughter
- A Whale for the Killing
- Death of a People-the Ihalmiut
- My Discovery of America
- Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey
- Woman in the Mists
- The New Founde Land
- The Farfarers
- No Man's River
Reader Comments on Farley Mowat's Books
Sean Craft, Box 1090, Bragg Creek, AB TOL OKO, Jun 2001
Dear Farley Mowat, I am a fourteen and two months and I go to Springbank community high
school. I am a special needs boy and I am taking a lot of courses like wildlife, English,
math, P.E., and computer classes.. When I am at home I watch television, play on the computer
and play my N64 nintendo games like Turok Two and Three. Mr. Mowat the part in the book that
I like is the parade. In the parade I like weeps and wol dress in dolls clothes and mutt
look like a tame lion with a lions mane around his neck. Another part I like is wol stealing
mutt dinner and bone away where he couldn't reach, most of all wol like to play the tail
squeeze game and mutt would yelp. I like the parts because they made me happy and sad. Mr.
Mowat If you are starting to write a new book I would be delighted to read your book if you
can make copies of it. When I read your first book it was the most spectacular book that
made me feel good. At the end of the book I felt a little sad. When I was finish with the
book the best part was expressing my thoughts. When some of your newest book come in I will
start reading your work again and will write another letter to you. Thank you Mr. Mowat.
Sincerely, Sean Craft. P.S. One of my teachers knows Vera who used to live beside you in
Saskatchewan. She told us what happened to the owls after the end of the book. That made
me feel sorry for you. *Note: This is truly the first book which Sean has ever taken the
initiative to read on his own without being coerced or cajoled into reading. This is a huge
milestone for him, as is the cogent writing of his "fan letter" to you, and the expression
of feelings. Thank you so much. Linda Williams, Special Needs Assistant.
GH Schaller, Halifax NS, Jan 2001
I read The Farfarers shortly after it was published and was very impressed by Mr.
Mowat's hypothesis and his explanations for the origin some of the more mysterious aspects
of the nothern artifacts. So simple and plausible a theory rings of the truth. I spent a
number of years in the arctic in the sixties and now wish I had travelled to some of the
sites he mentioned. Yesterday I came across a 1998 edition of Canadian Geographicthat
published exerpts from his book which rekindled my interest. I remember being struck at the
time by the lack of references to his theories during the celebrations last year in Newfoundland
comemorating the one thousandth anniversary of the Viking settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows.
I work with a number of young professionals from Newfoundland and most of them do not know,
when asked, of the Jakatars (let alone the cairns lying in ruin by St. George's Bay). It
seems to me that there is very likely a wealth of archeological and anthropological material
in need of study and preservation that is being ignored by mainstream scholars. Can anyone
give me an update, is anyone running with the ball that Farley has so deftly tossed into
Chris Kavanaugh, Earth First! Sea Shepherd, Buffalo Field Campaign, Jan 2001
I discovered Mowat while serving in the USCG in Alaska.The world looks different when people
like him take off the snow goggles of this thing called civilization. I am hopelessly committed
to a lost youth and grumpy middle aged activism. Thank you Farley.
Ibsen Birgers, Pueblo Colorado, USA, Dec 2000
Enjoyed The Farfarers very much. Mowat's attempt at putting flesh and blood on
the bones of inexplicable remnants of, presumably, pre-caucasian Europeans, so that they
might be logically linked, is fascinating. It is one of those works (I'm thinking here of The
Zuni Connection: A native American People's Possible Japanese Connection by
Nancy Yaw Davis) that demands a lot of research to collect accredited historical "facts",
proofs and other evidence in order to make a likely case for the author's argument. The proofs
-- the flesh and blood -- , aside from the thesis -- the bones -- , are engaging. But the
story also establishes that the existence of a pre-caucasian group inhabiting Europe, whether
true or not, was wholly possible. Farfarers also challenges us to look at western Europe
and the north eastern part of North America through a different lens, and not just one that
focuses on, say, the Norse or the Celts, and their journeys and landfalls.
Doug McGregor, Manitoba Museum of Man & Nature, Aug 1998
In Farley Mowat's Ordeal by Ice, readers are introduced to the perils of Arctic exploration.
His transcription of Capt. John Ross's Second Narrative of a Voyage in Search of a Northwest
Passage reveals a tale of benevolence that is rather unique. Your readers will be familiar
with the story of the Inuk hunter who, having lost his leg to a polar bear, received a wooden
replacement from Capt. Ross as a good will gesture. I would like your readers to know that
the wooden leg has survived (though in fragile condition) to this day and still bears the
inscription "Victory/ 1830". Pending gallery design, visitors to the Manitoba Museum may
be able to view it in the year 2000. I can think of no other artifact that truly symbolizes
one of the more positive aspects of European/ Native encounters.