Grey Owl (1888-1938), an Englishman, immigrated to Canada as Archibald Belaney in 1906 and quickly constructed an identity as a Native, assuming the Ojibwa name Wa-sha-quon-asin and eventually settling in Saskatchewan on Ajawaan Lake. He spread his message of preservation through multiple bestsellers, including The Men of the Last Frontier, The Adventures of Sajo and Her Beaver People, and Tales of an Empty Cabin.
Pilgrims of the Wild
First published in 1935, Pilgrims of the Wild is Grey Owl’s autobiographical account of his transition from successful trapper to preservationist. With his Iroquois wife, Anahereo, Grey Owl set out to protect the environment and the endangered beaver. Powerful in its simplicity, Pilgrims of the Wild tells the story of Grey Owl’s life of happy cohabitation with the wild creatures of nature and the healing powers of what he referred to as "the great Northland" of "Over the Hills and Far Away."
A bestseller at the time, Pilgrims of the Wild helped establish Grey Owl’s international reputation as a conservationist. His legacy of warnings against the degradations of nature and the dangers of industry live on, despite the posthumous revelation that he wasn’t, in fact, the First Nations man he claimed to be.
A bestseller when it was published in 1935, Pilgrims of the Wild is Grey Owls account of his transition from successful trapper to environmentalist, as he and his Iroquois wife, Anahareo, set out to protect the endangered beaver. Includes an informative and accessible introduction by Gnarowski.
Michael Gnarowski co-edited The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada, compiled The Concise Bibliography of English Canadian Literature, and edited the Critical Views on Canadian Writers series for McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Gnarowski is professor emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa.