What Farley Knew

The late Canadian author, environmentalist, self-promoter, and shit-disturber Farley Mowat was born on this day in 1921. Nearly ninety-two years later, on May 6 of 2014, he died. Between those dates Mowat led a legendary life. A polarizing personality, he was widely loved and yet frequently reviled.

Pinocchio MowatIt’s Mowat’s storytelling that will remain his greatest legacy, and drew his most vociferous criticism. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” was his mantra, and Mowat was duly dubbed “Hardly Know It” by many serious scientists, experts, and ordinary folk—especially Northerners—fed up with his penchant for myth-making. Saturday Night magazine depicted Farley Mowat as Pinocchio in a cover story that catalogued his errors, exaggerations and outright fibs.

For his part, Mowat claimed his wildly popular books—he sold 17 million of them, all over the world—brought much needed attention to serious causes: the starvation of the Ahalmuit (People of the Deer); the demonization of wolves (Never Cry Wolf); the plight of whales (A Whale for the Killing), seals and other marine life (Sea of Slaughter).

The factuality of Mowat’s work may often be sketchy, but his skill as a storyteller is undeniable. As Up Here noted in a reevaluation in 2009, (Farley Mowat: Liar or Saint?) the North has been hard on its writers at the best of times, and Hardly Know It might well have been reviled for his unpopular stance even if he’d been a stickler for accuracy.

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Certainly, if history judges his books by their emotional substance, Farley Mowat’s legacy will be a favourable one. Sympathy for wild creatures was once considered sentimental. Criticism of British and Canadian patriarchal authority in the North was weak-kneed. And advocacy for the Inuit way of life was anything but common when Farley Mowat first put pen to paper.

These were ideas Mowat introduced, and stood by, early on in his career. All are clearly in evidence in his Top of the World Trilogy. This compendium of old explorer’s journals, spanning several centuries, edited with commentary by Mowat, is well worth re-reading now: it’s vintage Mowat, and yet, published in 1973, it was well ahead of its time.

Favouring overlooked, underdog explorers like Samuel Hearne, Francis McClintock, and Captain Thierry Mallet, Mowat’s selections and commentary subvert the typical hero narrative, heaping scorn on hapless colonizers of the North acting on orders from far away, including the otherwise iconic Sir John Franklin.

Such views are common, if not dominant today, even in the South. Would that be the case without Farley Mowat? Clearly his most egregious missteps and misstatements will not stand the test of time, nor should they. But on what would have been his ninety-fourth birthday, perhaps we can admit that on some subjects, at least, Farley Knew It after all.

Editor’s note: the late Farley Mowat travelled as a special guest aboard Adventure Canada expeditions in 1995 and 1997. Among his many contributions he taught us invaluable lessons about garnering cheap publicity.

For a definitive take on this issue, see Ken McGoogan‘s thorough and beautiful overview of Farley Mowat’s literary legacy from the National Post.

Hinterland Hee Hee

In the vast reaches of the high Arctic, muted hues are often the order of the day, leaving the photographic eye to rove in search of dramatic colours. Luckily, our passengers and staff, geared up for their hikes and excursions, provide all the colours of the rainbow!

Videographer Pat McGowan of InMotion Production Group found a created this loving tribute to the glory of gear, with a gentle nod to that beloved Canadian institution, the Hinterland Who’s Who clip. Pat has captured in action a critter many adventure travellers will find familiar… Enjoy!

Cedar Swan, Globe catalyst nominee

catalyst-swan00sr1We’re very proud of our V.P., Cedar Bradley-Swan: she’s been named one of ten nominees for the Globe and Mail‘s Catalyst series, searching for creative Canadians.

We’re delighted for Cedar. In a small, family run business like Adventure Canada, we can’t help but feel Cedar’s recognition shines a bright light on all our efforts.

Perhaps most importantly, we note that in the Globe ‘s recent profile and video of Cedar she reveals what motivates her: the beauty of the Arctic, and the incredible spirit of the people who call the North ‘home’. We share those feelings too.

Congratulations, Cedar, on your nomination! It is indeed an honour.

 

25th anniversary brochure!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

For months now, the team at Adventure Canada has been working on something our guests look forward to year after year: our new brochure.

Adventure Canada travellers love to dream, and we know they often thumb the pages of our brochures time and again as they plan the perfect adventure.

This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of our first tour, to the Arctic in 1988. So we went to extra effort to celebrate the milestone.

The trips we’re featuring for 2013-2014 are chosen from among our very best – including a new trip to Sable Island, and a return to Antarctica in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Endurance expedition. We think the look and feel of this beautiful document reflects the craft and care that went into planning these amazing trips.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new brochure, Canada and the North. If you’d like a copy for your coffee table or night stand, just let us know.

To view in full screen mode, click on the expand icon (a small square inside a larger square.)

Robert Service poetry contest

2000-A289PoetryContestweb

Up Here Magazine is running a Robert Service poetry contest, and with a brief proviso, we’re here to tell you about it and encourage you to enter.

The proviso: we can’t agree with the suggestion that Robert Service is ‘our greatest-ever Northerner.’ He wasn’t from the North, didn’t stay in the North, and never returned to the North after leaving Dawson City in 1912.

Still, ‘The Bard of the Yukon’ wrote some classic poetry, and did much to popularize the special qualities of the Canadian North, mythic or otherwise.

And, we love poetry. So we encourage you to put put pen to paper and submit your poem.

We just hope that the suggested ‘Northern’ theme will be open to interpretation. One man’s vision, however brilliant, is not enough to define a region as rich, as diverse, and as anciently populated as the North.

Cruise Nunavut

This gorgeous video from Canada’s North will look familiar to many AC guests: it was shot aboard our beloved ship, Sea Adventurer.

In fact you can see the AC flag flying from the mast!

If you’ve cruised Nunavut before, you’ll know the magic. If you haven’t, well, maybe this is your year.

Join us for one of these amazing Nunavut cruises:
Heart of the Arctic, June 24 – July 6, 2013
Into the Northwest Passage, Aug. 6 – Aug. 20, 2013
Out of the Northwest Passage, Aug. 20 – Sept. 5, 2013

Gorgeous Greenland

Greenland – Rough. Real. Remote. from media.gl on Vimeo.

Whatever your current impressions of Greenland, you’re bound to have your eyes opened by this stunning video.

Featuring Red Bull trial biker, Petr Kraus, this trailer for the video series Greenland – Rough. Real. Remote is beautifully shot, superbly edited, and just as compelling for the ears as it is for the eyes.

We couldn’t watch just once, and we bet you won’t either.

You can find out more about the making of this film from the crew at 99backcountry.com

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Visit Greenland this summer on one of these Adventure Canada voyages:
Scotland to Greenland, June 12 – June 24, 2013
Heart of the Arctic, June 24, 2013 – July 6, 2013
Arctic Explorer, July 27, 2013 – Aug. 6, 2013
Into the Northwest Passage, Aug. 6 – Aug. 20, 2013
Out of the Northwest Passage, Aug. 20 – Sept. 5, 2013
Greenland & Wild Labrador, Sept. 5 – Sept. 18, 2013