Great Books of the World – Part 17

“A simple choice sometimes changes a life.”
Denbee

“The feel of a canoe gunnel at the thigh, the splash of flying spray in the face,
the rhythm of the snowshoe trail, the beckoning of far-off hills and valleys,
the majesty of the tempest, the calm and silent presence of the trees that
seem to muse and ponder in their silence;
the trust and confidence of small living creatures,
the company of simple men;
these have been my inspiration and my guide.
Without them I am nothing.”
Grey Owl

 

Courtesy of Sustainable Human:

 

“The Memory of Trees” by Enya (courtesy of 777loveisall):

 

Courtesy of Be Smart:

 

THE ADVENTURES OF SAJO AND HER BEAVER PEOPLE
GREY OWL
1888 – 1938

Courtesy of Anne Martin:

 

Archibald Stansfeld Belaney was a British-born conservationist, writer, lecturer. He was born in Hastings, on the south coast. A difficult childhood made him long to escape as far away as possible.

Agawa River, Ontario, Canada

Between 1932-34 a Native Indian from the remote Canadian forest became a global sensation. His lectures on the need for conservation, protection of forests, animals, and native Indians, were so passionate, articulate, and charismatic that he had attracted the attention of agents, publishers, and those who were hoping to make money on the seemingly simple man. Books quickly followed, again to great acclaim. His tales of a trapper turned protector, written in clear heartfelt prose, some with his own illustrations, had struck a chord with many people. Those were the times of smoky jazz clubs,  European nightclubs, the Charleston, drinks and other excesses, and there was a man extolling the pleasure of early morning swims in the cool forest lake, long walks among the pine trees, the beauty of nature, wildness, and animals, especially beavers.

Courtesy of stromgull:

His enchanting book about saving and bringing up two orphaned baby beavers, again with his simple but attractive drawings, became a bestseller. After ‘The Men of the Last Frontier’ and ‘Pilgrims of the Wild’ came ‘The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People’.

Grey Owl (He who walks at night), became the best-known Canadian author of his day. He travelled the world and his lectures were attended even by royalty, as was the case in England. When it was discovered that the Native Indian was in fact an Englishman, Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, born in 1888 in Hastings of white parents, and brought up by his aunts until the age of seventeen, the publishers were devastated and stopped using the name Grey Owl. The scandal didn’t make much difference to the millions of admiring readers and to the popularity of his books, translated into many languages. He was a conservationist and his powerful message to save the Earth from destruction will never be forgotten, no matter what name he used. Since then, many books have been written about his unusual life, and a film was made about his friendship with Native Indians and his work, with Pierce Brosnan as Grey Owl (below).

Courtesy of AMBI Distribution:

 

In the Preface to The Adventures Of Sajo And Her Beaver People, Grey Owl wrote:

“The events recorded in this tale, all of them have taken place within my knowledge. Indeed, most of them are recorded from personal experience and from first-hand narration by the participants themselves. Any Indian words used are correctly rendered from the Ojibway language, in the regional dialect of the area involved.

The description of the animal character is to be taken as authentic, and the mental and physical reactions ascribed to the animals are as nearly correct as a lifetime of intimate association with wildlife, in its own environment, can make them. My intention was to write a child’s story that could be read by grown-ups.

It is highly probable that Chlawee and Chikanee, the two beaver kittens who are the heroes of the story, survived to a ripe old age in their home-pond, for not only was this colony considered, after the event, inviolate by the hunters in whose trapping grounds they were, as well as by entire community, but soon after their release the region for many miles around was included within boundaries of a well known Provincial Park. The Yellow Birch river  – in fact, the whole area – remains in very nearly the same unspoiled condition it was at the time of the story.

It is my hope that besides providing entertainment, this story of two Indian children and their well-loved animal friends may awaken in some eager, inquiring young minds a clear and more intimate understanding of the joys and the sorrows, the work, the pastimes, and the daily lives of the humble little People of the forest, who can experience feelings so very like their own. And the writer even ventures to allow himself the thought that perhaps, too, it may invoke in the hearts of even those of more mature years a greater tolerance and sympathy for those who are weaker or less gifted than themselves.

Above all, may it be my privilege to carry with me, as fellow-voyagers on this, a short journey to the Northland, a small but happy company of those little once who, for a short a time, dwell in that Enchanted Vale of Golden Dreams that we call Childhood.

Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin  (Gray Owl )

Beavers Lodge
Ajawaan Lake
Prince Albert National Park
Saskatchewan
Canada

November 25th, 1934

“Many Winters” by Hans Zimmer:

 

Here is an extract from The Adventures Of Sajo And Her Beaver People:

“The attendant stood by for a long time and watched and shook his head, and said ‘Too bad, little fellow, too bad.’

This was his job, taming these wild creatures that were sent to him from time to time; yet, liking animals as he did, he sometimes hated the work. To him they often seemed to be, not wild things at all, but hopeless, unfortunate little people who could not speak, and who sometimes were so pitifully in need of the kindness for which they could not ask; and he had always felt that a man, who was so much bigger and stronger, and knew so many things that they did not, should be good to them and help them all he could. And he pitied the little beaver that was struggling so helplessly to be free, for this was not the first one that had come under his care, and he knew their gentle nature.

He remembered that a beaver may live more than twenty years  –  twenty years in that prison of iron and concrete! In twenty years his own family would be grown up and away from here; he himself might be gone. The town would have become a great city, people would come and  – free people, happy people – and through it all, this unhappy little beast, who had done no harm to anyone, and seemed only to want someone to be kind to him, would for twenty lonely years, looked out through the bars of that wretched pen as though he had been some violent criminal; waiting for the freedom that would never be his, waiting only to die at last.”

“Nocturne in E Flat Major: Andante” by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Seong-Jin Cho:

 

Appropriately, the November full moon is known as the Beaver Moon, as this is the time of year when beavers begin to take shelter in their lodges, having accumulated sufficient stores of food for the long winter ahead. This year the November full moon is also a lunar eclipse and will appear reddish so it is known as the Beaver Blood Moon. It will take place on Tuesday 8th November 2022.

Courtesy of 5NEWS:

 

“Nocturne in A Minor” by Chad Lawson (courtesy of Mickael David):

 

 

61 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 17

  1. What a beautiful story. I have read many stories where the reintroduction of beavers has really improved the water availability in many lands in the west (like Nevada). I have also seen where beavers had to be relocated because their attempts to back up drainage ditches caused flooding on a major secondary road where I lived in northern Virginia.

    Like

  2. Lovely, heart-wrenching prose from a beautiful soul. Thank you for the introduction, Joanna. Have you read any theories as to why he tried to hide his true identity? 🌞

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  3. Thank you, Pat, for your wonderful comment. I loved this story for a very long time and was called a little beaver as a child.

    Thank you for adding additional information, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My pleasure, Joanna. I have an affinity for beavers
    Very cute nickname.

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  5. Thank you. Likewise.

    Joanna

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  6. I did not know about Grey Owl, though I had read about beavers and their importance to the ecosystem. Fascinating creatures. There is so much we can learn by watching all the other creatures who share our planet. Lovely presentation, as ever and music.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.
    Anita

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  8. What an exciting day – you have introduced me to a new author I had not heard of. The excerpt sounds lovely, I shall definitely try and get his books. Thank you, Joanna!

    The back story of Grey Owl reminds me of Lobsang Rampa, who turned out to be a Yorkshire plumber. But not the less readable or intriguing for all that!

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  9. I had no idea beavers have iron in their teeth! Thank you so much for sharing this fascinating story. 🙂

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  10. Thank you for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for your interesting comment, and the addition to my knowledge! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Carolyn, for your wonderful comment! We are likeminded when we think about the animals and their importance to us and our planet.

    Joanna

    Like

  13. That’s why book talk is so great – we keep learning new and interesting things all the time 🤗

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  14. I agree! Thank you!

    Joanna

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  15. This is lovely. Thanks for sharing, Joanna.

    Like

  16. Thank you for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have always loved writers who could find people in animals and can bring them in as characters or members in a house otherwise oblivious to this world. More so like myself who is oblivious to almost anything and all the writers whom I have got to know through you. Just like this post, or this whole blog, you are a treasure ‘book’ yourself Joanna.

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you, Narayan, for your wonderful comments! This writer, Grey Owl, and his writing had a huge influence on my philosophy of life. As a child, I was even called “Boberek”,
    a small beaver in Polish. I have all his books and his visionary views are especially apt with the concern about Climate Changed. Without doing everything possible to stop the damage and even reverse it in some ways, we are doomed.
    Thank you, Narayan, for your complimentary vies, greatly appreciated, although, you are a great writer yourself and I do hope to be able to review your masterpiece one day.

    Joanna

    Like

  19. PS. Correction: should be “views”

    Like

  20. That’s a beautiful story. which I didn’t know.
    Thank you so much Joanna for writing, researching and sharing this fascinating post 💙

    Like

  21. Thank you, Luisa, for your kind comment! I am glad that I had a chance to show you something new!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh yes, your interesting post introduced me to something new 🙏💙🙏

    Like

  23. Thank you dearest. Yes, you have to. Soon.

    Like

  24. That is a good news! I just looked at the map of the walk we discussed, and I think it could be the first step to the masterpiece you need to achieve the greatest accolade.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Joanna, thank you for sharing this beautiful story that I haven’t heard of before. The connectivity of all creatures to our planet is fascinating and the ability to gain more knowledge is endless. I enjoy reading your educational and informative posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you, Lauren, for your wonderful comments! I agree with every word you wrote. It is such a pleasure to have readers who are likeminded and it makes me feel part of the community.
    Thank you, Lauren, again, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you, Joanna, for one more post on a children’s adventure novel that has been widely read even by grown ups. It’s author has a difficult childhood, like many others. Behavioural scientists say that if childhood is not happy, it’s reflected in the personality as an adult, but those who win this deficiency, win laurels like Belaney.

    I like the story how Sajo and her elder brother adopt two young beaver kittens and how they try to save them from fur traders. More important is that it’s the real story by a celebrity conservationist, though he lived a life of imposter.

    As always, you have made the post captivating with beautiful clippings and pictures. Thank you for information regarding Beaver Blood Moon. I’ll watch this phenomenon on 8th Nov.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful and comprehensive comments! Grey Owl wrote the story after adopting the two young beavers as they were orphaned, and they lived with him in the wooden hut on the edge of the lake. Tourists go there after either walking for miles through the forest or by a boat for hire. I will watch the Beaver Blood Moon too.
    As I have written in my comments Grey Owl was a visionary because Climate Change is causing worldwide disruption.
    Thank you, Kaushal, again.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I absolutely loved this one Joanna. I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard of Grey Owl before, but there’s a nagging suspicion that I may have done. Whatever, I’ve definitely heard of him now.

    I can see why an Englishman would want to immerse himself in the culture that he believed in, and I don’t see him as being a fraud at all. In fact, living with nature is something that we should all endeavour to do, just like the indigenous people that came before us did.

    This story reminds me a bit of Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water, and I loved that story too. The problem is, the world has changed and as much as we would all like to live in a Utopian world, I wonder if it’s possible with so many people on the planet that have so many different views.

    I’ve mentioned to a few of my followers that I have to draw back from posting and commenting on WordPress (at least for a while), but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be following your amazing posts or submitting my own – just not so often.

    Thanks for yet another wonderful post Joanna. Loved it 😊

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  30. You’re right, Joanna, that’s why Grey Owl is known as one of the most renowned conservationist authors. Thanks for giving details. Always welcome!!

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  31. Thank you, Malc, for your interesting comments! I love Gavin Maxwell’s book and I have it close by. There are people who still are able to leave surrounded by nature but perhaps, not on the scale of Grey Owl. I am happy that you liked the post, there is more to follow…

    I do hope that you will post one of your amazing posts.
    Thank you again, Malc.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Yet another great and interesting author. Though I never heard of him, but what a great introduction to him. And what a great and unusual story he had, from native Indian to Englishman, Grey owl, his love for nature & animal. There’s no wonder why millions of people admire his lectures and books. Truly inspirational.

    (This November full moon, I’ll remember it is as Beaver moon)

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  33. I have not read Gray Owl’s books but on reading your review here I think I must. A book I have just recently started reading is The Dance Boots by Linda LaGarde Grover, a collection of stories about the traditional ways of the Ojibwe communities who struggle with the 21st century. 💌🌹🤍🙋‍♂️

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  34. Thank you, Ashley, for your interesting, as usual, comments. I think that you will like the words of the visionary writer as they are so apt with our problems of Climate Change and the resulting flooding and wildfires.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Nice read. Like it. Excellent post as usual. Cheers. 🌹🍀

    Liked by 1 person

  36. A really great post, Joanna. I love the nature photos and videos, and your interesting story!

    Like

  37. Thank you, Dwight, for your generous comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  38. You are welcome!

    Like

  39. Thank you for sharing Joanna, great post. I enjoyed reading the extract from The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People.

    Like

  40. Thank you, Henrietta, for your kind comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Thank you for being such a good soul and your support of the animals through your heart and commitment Joanna. Such a wonderful story. I’ll come back to refer to. 💗

    Like

  42. Thank you, Cindy, for your heart warming comments! Your words lift my spirit and are greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  43. ~just a thought 10/11/2022 — 3:52 pm

    Such an interesting post, I didn’t know about Grey Owl until now. I’m a Prime subscriber and that movie is available at no added cost. (Added to my list to watch this weekend with my husband.)

    Like

  44. Thank so much for your lovely comment! I greatly appreciate your watching the film!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  45. There are always such new things to learn from your posts! I had not known about Grey Owl, his books, or his work, really great to be enlightened on this front. Hope to read more of your fascinating posts!

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  46. Thank you, Ninu, for your wonderful comments! I do hope to see you again, and I greatly appreciate your words.

    Joanna

    Like

  47. Lovely writing! Great story! Well shared thanks 👌

    Like

  48. Thank you, Priti, for your kind comments! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  49. It’s pleasure of mine ☺️

    Like

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