Great Books of the World – Part 17

“A simple choice sometimes changes a life.”

“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:


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

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):



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

  1. I just got to go back to this more thoroughly Joana and I truly admire the fascination the Archibald Stansfeld Belaney., Grey Owl had and how he immersed himself in the work and created such a stir or awareness. Those beavers and the movie was outstanding!💞


  2. Thank you so much, Cindy, for your wonderful comments! I am very happy that you saw the film. Thank you!

    I do hope that all is well with your building work.



  3. I remember as a child, I dreamed about being in the snug little beaver home in the winter. Whenever I looked at the beaver house in the pond, I spun little tales of what we were all doing inside to pass the time away.


  4. Thank you, Dorothy, for the original and unique comments! I would think that they are sleeping!

    After 400 years of beavers being extinct in the UK, where I live, they are now several beavers brought from another country and thriving. I just hope that they were asked if they wanted a new adventure…



  5. In my child’s mind, they were snuggled up with books, nestled under quilts, and enjoying their rest!


  6. Books! That is my vision too!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have heard many stories about beavers and seeing your blog brought me back to my memory, even though beavers are not their habitat here, but as children they always haunted our minds.
    In general I was fascinated by everything in your post.

    Receive my appreciation and love in a big hug, dear Joanna.


  8. Hank you, Lincol, for your wonderful comments! Here, after 400 years of extinction, we have beavers back, brought from another country, and they are happy and thriving.

    Thank you again, Lincol, greatly appreciated!


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks to you, Joanna. 🤗😀🤗


  10. You are more than welcome, Loncol.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. I will seek this book out. Grey Owl is a interesting person dear Gaby. Thank you for sharing the thoughts and review.


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