The man was such a champion of the environment that he was, at one time in the 1980s, prevented from traveling to the U.S., because he was listed with Immigration as a potential terrorist. He may be the only person so listed, simply for urging that we stop killing animals.
Mowat was unsurpassed as a pure curmudgeon in favor of the wild, wild animals, wilderness, and environmental protection. He was a story teller above all, understanding completely the powerful role that stories play in moving government policies — which his books frequently did. His first works, on indigenous peoples in Canada’s far north, wrought significant changes in Canada’s policies towards those now known as First Nations. When his signature book, Never Cry Wolf, was translated into Russian, Russia prohibited hunting wolves.
From the Washington Post obit notice:
“I keep my optimism alive and revitalized by accepting the fact that we are a bad species, and probably haven’t got much time here,” he told The Washington Post in 1994, “and it’s not going to break my heart when Homo sap wanders offstage.”
Then he added, “Wanna get some more coffee?”
Barry Goldwater might say that extremism in pursuit of noble conservation is no vice. Mowat wouldn’t care what Goldwater thought.
So long, Farley Mowat.
- Go see this image by Peter Bregg — true portraiture
- New York Times obit
- Canadian Broadcasting Company Books remembrance of Mowat, with some good audio clips
- Associated Press story at ABC News site
- NPR story on Mowat’s death, with links to audio
- Obit at The Guardian