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Why Find Farley?

Farley Mowat is one of Canada’s most iconic storytellers. Now 86 years old, he has, in the past six decades published 44 books in more than 20 languages, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide (Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, Lost in the Barrens, Owls in the Family, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, Sea of Slaughter, A Whale for the Killing…).

Letter from Farley Mowat to Karsten HeuerMowat’s commercial success is due, in part, to his masterful storytelling, but it is also his subject matter: using the wilder parts of Canada as his backdrop, Mowat explores one of humanity’s most confounding questions: how to balance our appetite for resources with the damage it inflicts on wildlife, traditional cultures, the oceans, and the land?

Karsten Heuer is also a writer who pens stories with a deeper conservation message.

In 2002 he published Walking the Big Wild (M&S), a bestselling adventure narrative about a 3,400km-long quest to assess the plausibility of wildlife corridors in the Rocky Mountains. In 2005, he wrote another wildlife-inspired tale about his five month trek by ski and foot with 123,000 endangered caribou. The resulting book (Being Caribou) was recognized by The Globe and Mail as one of the Top 100 Books of 2006, won the Grand Prize at the Banff International Mountain Book Festival, and won the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award in the United States. The National Film Board of Canada’s documentary (shot and directed by Karsten’s wife, Leanne Allison) won 11 national and international awards including a Gemini Award in 2006.

Mowat was one of Karsten’s favourite author’s both as a kid and as an adult. Indeed, Owls In the Family ensured that from age five, the owl was his favourite animal. It was at the draft phase of writing Being Caribou that Karsten,  on a whim, sent a copy of his manuscript to Farley Mowat, never expecting to hear anything back. A few weeks later, he received Farley’s response (right).

That letter was followed by a phone call from Farley, and an invitation: would Leanne and Karsten come visit him at his Cape Breton farm?

No sooner had they hung up than the couple began discussing how to make the cross-Canada trip.

“Fly,” Leanne said.

“Borrow a friend’s van,” Karsten suggested (knowing their 20-year-old wreck wouldn’t make it).

But, once uttered, these ideas rang hollow. Arriving on a jet or rolling across the blacktop to meet Farley Mowat just didn’t seem right.

Later that night, after their toddler was asleep, Leanne and Karsten discussed the idea of a true pilgrimage. It would have to be a journey to complement the man at the end of that journey. With many of Farley Mowat’s characters and stories in mind, Leanne and Karsten pulled out a map of Canada  and began to dream. Over the next hour, a compelling idea began to take form.

Why not take the true path to Farley Mowat – paddling, walking, and sailing a winding route through the settings of his books along the way!