ABOVE: Watch MP Elizabeth May talk about her friend Farley Mowat and the author’s impact on Canadian society.
TORONTO — Acclaimed Canadian author and environmentalist Farley Mowat died Tuesday — only six days before his 93rd birthday.
Mowat is best known for his 1963 book Never Cry Wolf, which was adapted for the big screen in 1983.
The author’s death was confirmed by Random House Canada.
A descendant of Ontario’s third premier, Mowat was born in Belleville, Ont. and raised in Richmond Hill north of Toronto. His family relocated to Saskatoon in the early 30s and Mowat developed an interest in the natural world and wildlife.
While still in his teens, Mowat wrote a nature newsletter and contributed a bird column to the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
After serving in World War II, Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto.
His first novel, 1952’s People of the Deer, was inspired by a trip he took to Canada’s north. He followed with books like The Regiment and Lost in the Barrens before penning Never Cry Wolf.
In all, Mowat wrote more than 25 books and his short stories appeared in several magazines including Atlantic Monthly and Maclean’s.
Mowat once told writer Joe Shepstone he did not enjoy writing.
“I’ve never enjoyed writing,” he admitted. “I enjoy having written. The completion of the exercise is marvelous!”
In a 2008 interview with Quill & Quire, Mowat said: “If someone tells you writing is easy, he is either lying or I hate him.”
BELOW: Watch an interview with Farley Mowat posted in 2007 by Random House of Canada.
He was frequently criticized for playing fast and loose with facts in order to create compelling stories. At the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Mowat once declared: “F–k the facts. The truth is what is important.”
Among his many awards and honours, Mowat was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981 and inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2010. A school in Ottawa and a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship are named in his honour.
The 2009 documentary Finding Farley followed Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison and their son and dog as they retraced Mowat’s literary journey across Canada.
“I’ve tried to fulfill the function that is in me which is that of the storyteller, the saga man, the writer, the storyteller. Underline the word storyteller,” Mowat said in an interview posted online in 2007 by Random House Canada.
“I have tried consciously to enjoy my life. And by God, to a degree, I have succeeded.”
Mowat died at his home in Port Hope, Ont. (he also had a summer home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia).
He is survived by wife Claire and children David and Sandy.
On Twitter, Mowat is being remembered as “a real character,” “Canada’s supreme storyteller” and a “giant.”
Never Cry Wolf is the most Canadian book I’ve read. Timeless classic. Thank you for your books and beard Farley Mowat.
— Jake Costello (@CostelloJake) May 7, 2014
Very sad to hear of the death of Farley Mowat. He was a great Canadian who introduced many of us to the natural world.
— Peter Andersen (@PeterAndersen_) May 7, 2014
Very sad to hear that Farley Mowat has died. A man who was unafraid to speak out for the Canada he believed in and held dear. RIP Farley.
— jian ghomeshi (@jianghomeshi) May 7, 2014
I loved Farley Mowat’s perspective on our natural world. I’ll never forget what I learned from Never Cry Wolf. #RIPFarleyMowat
— Peter Raaymakers (@rymkrs) May 7, 2014
If you’ve never read the late Farley Mowat, or never heard of him, well, you should.
— Glenn Stout (@GlennStout) May 7, 2014
RIP Farley Mowat — Thanks for the stories, the journeys and your vision.
— Tin (@Tin_Hotha) May 7, 2014
I always wanted to see the Prarie after reading Farley Mowat’s books. RIP.
— MG (@WorkingCollar) May 7, 2014
Farley Mowat was the first author that I read that awakened that sense of adventure as a young boy #RIP
— Jason Kerr (@jasonjkerr) May 7, 2014
I can’t think of any Canadian writers whose books have done more to explain Canada to itself than Mowat’s.
— Stephen Maher (@stphnmaher) May 7, 2014
Most writers would kill to have written either “And No Birds Sang” or “The Dog That Wouldn’t Be”. Mowat wrote both of them, beautifully.
— Norm Wilner (@normwilner) May 7, 2014
© Shaw Media, 2014