Farley and Me
Farley Mowat left us on Wednesday just days shy of his 93rd birthday. Farley was one of the greats of the Canadian literary scene but he was also a bounder, an adventurer, a rabble rouser and a lover of everything that life had to offer. He was bombastic, impish, gnomish, passionate and angry. AT the start of his career he would publish a book and its content would prompt a national debate. Natives, wolves, whale killing, Canada's northern policy. Some accused him of torquing the truth but Farley always thought if the right thing got done it didn't matter.
I think Farley was the kind of Canadian a lot of us wish we could be but we just don't have it in us. We can't sail without a motor or build a shelter out of sticks. We're not up to portaging or interested in homesteading in a shack without heat.
I got to know Farley Mowat when I first came to Toronto. I guess I underestimated the power of CFRB because I was astonished that I could call one of Canada's most legendary writers at home and he'd talk with me. I don't know if it was the first or second time I booked him to talk on the show that he said "What time do you want to do it...I'll push back my drink". Maybe it was because of him that we used to do the cocktail hour.
When Farley was in town we would sit down for in person interviews and I always poured a premium vodka to share. You can hear our last recorded conversation here. (click on the tiny "play" button). It was recorded in a hotel room overlooking Lake Ontario at the Harbour Castle Hotel with his wife Clare sitting by his side.
Here’s hoping Farley is bunking down tonite in a new wilderness with a dog and an owl and the satisfaction of having changed Canada forever.