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Friday, 24 February 2017

Two Hoots for Grey Owl

I wrote an earlier posting about my upset over learning that acclaimed Canadian First Nations author Joseph Boyden has no provable First Nations genealogy. In fact Boyden is a white boy from Toronto's suburban Willowdale.  Boyden's pretense at being a "genuine" First Nations author reminded many people of that original poseur, Grey Owl. It will be interesting to see if Boyden's literary reputation is treated as harshly for his false claims as Grey Owl's was. Because of the Boyden affair, I decided to read Grey Owl for the first time, and I've been pleasantly surprised at what an entertaining, even shamanic, writer Grey Owl was. Here's a passage which would do Boyden proud:

paragraph from chapter X111, The Tree

  All this the bear saw and heard; and who can ever know what strange thoughts passed behind those small sagacious eyes, or what unfulfilled longings surged through that mighty frame, as he gazed so steadily and so long out upon that, to him, undiscovered country with its far off vistas and its unknown inhabitants. But it was not his home, and he never went there. And the great jack-pine, giant of its kind and old, even as he was, became to him a kind of milepost or a monument, and the companionship of the tree seemed to fill some want in his lonely life, and he began to feel, in his dim, uncouth way, that it lived and was, for all it seemed so quiet and never moved, a friend. And so he put his mark upon it with his teeth. And the tree, that had never been scored since the tiny cuts were made upon it by the rabbits' teeth, and was now covered by the concentric rings of four hundred years, felt a strange thrill go through all it fibres at this recognition, and knew than that it too, had life. And when the bear was no longer there, the ground around its foot felt bare and empty, and when the huge brown beast returned and took his accustomed place, the soul of the tree would thrill, and a kind of a tremor pass among its branches; and the bear would lie contentedly beneath it and gaze out over the wide plains that spread for ever on into the Unknown.

Tales of an Empty Cabin, Lovat Dickson Limited, London UK, 1936
Image result for pic Grey Owl

Grey Owl (not Joseph Boyden)

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