Reading Farley Mowat

This summer, I’ve been on a bit of a reading spree. I’ve focused on books by one of my favourite authors Farley Mowat (1921-2014) who wrote 42 books (translated into over 26 languages) as a freelance writer over the span of 50 years. Farley Mowat was the most prolific writer in Canada and sold over 10 million books – so why wouldn’t I want to read some of his books that I’ve collected over the years! “Subjective non-fiction” and “cause-oriented” as Farley said of his writings – he was an environmental activist to be sure.

Reading FMwm

Reading The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be

Farley Mowat wrote books about animals (domesticated and wild) like caribou, owls, dogs, wolves, and whales (Owls in the Family; The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be; Never Cry Wolf; Sea of Slaughter; etc.) or books about vanishing people who we knew nothing about like the Inuit (People of the Deer; The Snow Walker; The Desperate People; No Man’s River; etc.); or books about disappearing ways of life as in the outport posts of Newfoundland (The Grey Seas Under; Bay of Spirits; The New Founde Land; etc.) ; or books which tell a tale about a place I’ve never been to like the arctic or Siberia (Walking on the Land; Sibir: My Discovery of Siberia; etc.) > stories unwritten until Farley Mowat wove words together to share his experiences with artistic flare.

I’ve accumulated a number of his books over the years and placed them lovingly on my ‘retirement’ shelf to read ‘later’. Well ‘later’ has come this summer and I’ve been reading all my Farley Mowat books like a person starving for sustenance!

WoFMwmI started off reading The World of Farley Mowat: A Selection from His Works which is a compilation of excerpts from some of his books. I read and read and read until my vision became blurred when I looked out the window! (*Note to self: get eyes examined.) I thought I’d read my favourite piece until I got to the next chapter about another book and I loved it just as much! If I have to pick, I think I liked the story of “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” best. I was intensely interested in the story of the Inuit in “People of the Deer“, too. Farley Mowat is such an amazing writer! He captures the spirit of the setting and translates it with emotion. I laughed until I cried, literally, when I read his excerpt from “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float“. I don’t think Nellie or Taylor heard me sitting there all by myself howling with laughter or they would have thought I’d gone crazy!! I enjoyed this book immensely!

 

I took a break because I recalled seeing on my bookshelves, another book by Claire Mowat, Farley’s wife, called ‘The Outport People‘ about their years living in an isolated village in Newfoundland. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this volume.

VirungawmI scoured my bookshelves for FM book #2 and decided on “Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey“. This biography about the famous Gorilla researcher in Africa was a very compelling read and worth every moment of my life spent devouring it’s pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TDWWBwmSurprisingly, I found “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” deep in the corner at the back of the top shelf of one of my bookcases. I was elated because I thought I didn’t have a copy anymore! THIS is the book I’m reading right now. It’s a small paperback so it won’t take me very long to read it. I also brought upstairs to read a copy of “Tundra“. These books were clearly visible on my bookshelves and I’m wondering what other volumes lie behind other books. I’m going to spend a few hours re-organizing some bookshelves to see what I’ve got……. and make room for more.

Every few years, we enjoy watching the movie made about Mowat’s book “Never Cry Wolf” as well. I want to add that I came across this amazing movie via the National Film Board about a young family who canoes the Farley route: Finding Farley https://www.nfb.ca/film/finding_farley/.

This morning I ordered “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float; Owls in the Family; Born Naked, and Bay of Spirits from my local public library. I just HAVE to read as many of Farley Mowat’s books as possible!! I’m looking forward to the annual Book Fair in town at the end of August – I’ll be scouring the tables for more second-hand Farley Mowat books to buy! I just love reading books about the Canadian way of life – for good or for bad! I guess it’s my way of paying recognition to Canada’s 150th Birth day by learning more about my country and the people and places in it. I do believe that I’ll be reading Farley Mowat’s books for years to come……

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Expo 67

 

Today, July 1st, is Canada Day! This year, Canada turns 150 years old. I’ve been blessed that I was born in the 1950’s and have been able to participate in our country’s two milestone anniversaries: the Centennial (100 years) and now the 150th birthday. I’m not going to write or debate today about the way we, as a nation, arrived here. I simply want to write about my experience during the Centennial year when I attended Expo 67, the highlight of that year.

Expo Postcard WM

My Expo 67 Postcard

 

I remember very well when Canada celebrated it’s centennial in 1967. I want to take you back 50 years ago to share my experience when our family attended the Expo 67 World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in July of 1967 when Canada was 100 years young. “Man and His World” was the theme of Expo.

1967 was a memorable year for me. I was 14 years old and living at home with my parents and two sisters. We planned to go down home to the Gaspé coast to see my relatives that summer. We’d have to drive right through Montreal so my parents decided that we should take in Expo 67 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, along with 55 million other people – pretty impressive since our country only had 20 million citizens. We camped near Montreal at Mont Ste. Hilaire, I think, and my Dad drove us into the city bright and early to experience Expo for an entire day! I think my poor Mom stayed at the campsite with our dog that day (she probably preferred it and had a lovely, quiet day).

Expo67logo2

Expo 67 logo

 

Expo was exhilarating, exciting, amazing and SO futuristic! It was built in the St. Lawrence River on several existing islands as well as some reclaimed land. Ninety participating countries built pavilions and I specifically remember the U.S. Pavilion looking like a giant ball of glass – actually a 250 foot diameter (76 meters) geodesic dome 200 feet high (62 meters). Currently, it’s the home of the Montreal Biosphere, which I had the pleasure of re-visiting with my youngest son a few years ago during a class trip.

There was also a Minirail – an elevated, open-air ‘train’ that took people all around the sprawling site. It seemed SO futuristic! But the best of all was La Ronde! This area was like an amusement park full of rides and games – we spent most of our day there.

La Ronde boasted rides like no other amusement park we’d ever seen before. Some of them, like the sensational, pyramid-shaped Gyrotron, were made of shiny metal and were VERY impressive: from the ground level, a rail car transported ‘travellers’ through the pyramid which attempted to reproduce space travel in a rocket. The ride suddenly ‘dropped’ into a hissing, spitting ‘volcano’ to be swallowed by a huge monster living within in it. Futuristic for 1967.

Gyrotron from Minirail WM

Gyrotron from the Minirail

 

Like any other fair, there were games galore. One particular game was a 10 cent coin toss into a plate to win a prize. I can’t figure out, to this day, what the point was of that game! My sister spent about $3.00 in dimes to win a twenty-five cent bowl or something. Hahaha!  La Ronde, still exists today as an amusement park owned and operated by Six Flags.

La Ronde WM

La Ronde

 

Fifty years have clouded my detailed memories of Expo 67 but I still feel an intense fondness for having celebrated Canada’s centennial year at Expo 67.

What do you remember?

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

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The Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) is an incorporated, registered charity. It is primarily a volunteer-run, grassroots organization with a Board of Directors to govern its operations.

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