Thursday, 29 January 2009

Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl by Anahareo

Grey Owl was an Englishman, born Archie Belaney.
This book was written by Anahareo, his Mohawk wife. She spent many years trapping and travelling along side him. With the passage of time they became troubled by the mass slaughter of the animals, at times to the last animal in the region, by the many trappers. At this point they focused themselves on conservation.
While Grey Owl is an interesting person, this book is really about Anahareo.
She came from a broken family. Her mother died when she was young and Anahareo was sent to live with relatives who treated her as a unpaid servant. Shortly before meeting Archie, her family had been re-united. It seems to me that when Archie offered her a relationship she was only to eager to grab on to it.
Fortunate for her, she was not the "stay at home little woman". She travelled with Archie and learned how to survive in the bush. She related several times when she was apart from Archie and needed to provide for herself. Anahareo seemed quite capable to adapt to the changing situations and do what she needed, whether it was fixing a shelter, driving a dog sled or staking a mineral claim.
Almost immediately upon meeting Archie, I didn't like him. He seemed too glib, not the type who took life even a bit seriously. At first I thought that the writing style would be grade schooling as Anahareo did not attend much school. I was pleased that she was easily able to compel me to continue reading and was even able to moderate my dislike of Archie.
While I doubt I would hold Anahareo up a the ultimate female role model. I do feel that she deserves recognition for her part in Archie's success in his conservation lectures and writing.
To learn more about the remarkable life of Anahareo visit the website dedicated to her:
The Canadian Encyclopedia has an interesting article about Grey Owl.


John Mutford said...

I love when peripheral characters (real or otherwise) take the limelight.

Dorte H said...

Hi Heather.

I just gave your beautiful blog an award. Could you come by and pick it up?

Best wishes, Dorte.