The Strange Case of Grey Owl: Imposter and Conservationist

Friday November 19 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Michael Gnarowski

Topic: The Strange Case of Grey Owl: Imposter and Conservationist


This talk is about the extraordinary life of Archibald Stansfield Belaney (1888-1938), a blue-eyed Englishman become Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin, a sort of Ojibway Indian who, in spite of a chaotic and “disorderly” life (five wives, more or less !) managed to transform himself into one of the best-known conservationists of his time; author of five best-selling books; drawing standing room only crowds in England and America; and succumbing to drink and exhaustion before his fiftieth year. It is also thought that he was instrumental in saving the Canadian beaver from extinction. Not bad for a badly run life !

Speaker’s Profile:

Michael Gnarowski, Professor Emeritus in the English Department of Carleton University. Educated at McGill University, University of Montreal, Indiana University and the University of Ottawa. Won a C.D. Howe Fellowship and a Commonwealth Fellowship and was a Research Associate of The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Long involved in the study and production of Canadiajn Literature and materials relating to Canadian Studies, as well as in the study of Modernism. Lectured on Canadian Literature in Canadian and European Universities (Universities of Leningrad, Warsaw, Bonn, Mainz, Siegen etc…) Was long-serving Editor of the Carleton Library Series and founding Director of Carleton University Press. Has written for The Canadian Encycopedia, the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of World Biography, the Encyclopedia Americana and the Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry. Presently Series Editor of Voyageur Canadian Classics and Editor of the re-issuing of the fiction of Hugh MacLennan. His edition of Grey Owl’s PILGRIMS OF THE WILD has been published this year and will be available at the local bookshop.

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